Learn about common risks regarding your automobile and discover how the proper insurance can help.
It’s easy to get distracted while driving. All it takes is an incoming text message, a fussy baby, or changing the radio station and your eyes are off the road long enough to crash into the slowing vehicle in front of you. As an owner/operator of the vehicle, you may be held financially responsible for any bodily injuries caused as a result of the accident.
Bodily injury liability covers your legal liability for a covered accident that involves injury to another person, up to the limit of liability you select. Purchase enough coverage to protect your assets should a claim be brought against you or if you are sued. You should also consider purchasing an excess liability policy which may provide additional limits of liability.
When involved in an auto accident, you and your family may be financially responsible for any damage caused by your vehicle to someone else's property. The amount required, if any, can vary by state.
The property damage portion of your auto insurance policy protects you if your car damages someone else's property, such as another car, a fence, or a building. In some instances, you may be able to choose your coverage limit, or it may be a standard amount dictated by the insurer or local laws.
Depending on the severity of the injuries suffered in an automobile accident, whether caused by you or by the other vehicle, it's not uncommon for healthcare costs to run into the thousands of dollars, with a large portion being out-of-pocket expenses not covered by your health plan.
Medical payments coverage or Personal Injury Protection, depending on where you live, can help cover some medical expenses and funeral expenses of covered drivers and passengers after an accident. The exact requirements, limits, and coverage can vary by state, so it's important to understand what's required where you live.
What happens when the driver who hit you doesn't have enough liability coverage? Or, even worse, they take off? Research has shown that this happens more than you might expect. If you’re in a collision with someone who is uninsured or underinsured, you can be left to pay out-of-pocket for damages and medical expenses not covered by the other driver.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist damage coverage may compensate you for bodily injury and lost wages caused by an uninsured motorist, a hit-and-run driver, a driver whose automobile insurance company is insolvent, or a driver who has not purchased enough coverage to pay for damages.
Your automobile can be a fairly costly investment – one that is exposed to many potential losses caused by weather related events, theft, and other circumstances that may be out of your control.
Physical damage coverage can protect your vehicle if it is damaged in an accident (collision coverage), is damaged by something other than a collision (comprehensive coverage) with a vehicle or object or if your vehicle is stolen. This coverage is optional if your vehicle is paid in full, but it is coverage you should consider if you want to fully protect your vehicle.
When your vehicle is being repaired or replaced due to a covered loss, you may have to rent a vehicle to get you to and from your daily responsibilities without any interruption. Vehicle rental can get expensive, especially over an extended period of time.
Rental coverage/ loss of use is an inexpensive option you can add to your auto insurance policy to pay for the cost to rent a temporary replacement vehicle or the cost of public or private transportation if your vehicle is ever in an accident. This coverage is available in a variety of daily limits.
We all know that you are required, by law, to maintain valid auto insurance in California. Did you know that if your auto insurance cancels, an automatic notice is sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles and the DMV will suspend your registration?
However, the biggest reason to carry auto insurance coverage is not because California Law says you must. The biggest reason to have auto insurance is to make sure that if you cause a car accident, you can afford to pay for the damage you caused.
This coverage is called liability, and if you don’t have it, or have it, but carry low coverage limits, you could be setting yourself up for a financial disaster. Don’t believe the myth that if you don’t have anything they (other party, lawyers and court) can’t get anything. The truth is in a court settlement, future wages can be attached; properties can have liens placed against them and more.
In addition to liability coverage, you will want to protect yourself from other drivers who carry no or low liability insurance by purchasing uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage at limits matching your liability coverage. You may also want to protect your vehicle by purchasing physical damage coverage for your car called collision and comprehensive coverage.
- This coverage pays others those amounts for which you become legally liable due to an auto accident. This may include drivers, passengers or pedestrians.
- You also receive coverage for payments of amounts for which you are found liable for damage to another’s property as the result of an auto accident.
- This also pays for legal defense costs if you are sued.
Medical Payments Protection
This coverage pays reasonable medical expenses for you or members of your family if you are injured in an auto accident or as a pedestrian struck by an auto. This protection is extended to others who are injured while occupying your auto.
Uninsured Motorist Protection
This coverage provides bodily injury coverage for accidents caused by a hit-and-run driver or uninsured driver which occurs when you or your family are driving a covered auto or while you are a pedestrian. In some states, uninsured motorists protection also covers property damage. Underinsured Motorists Coverage pays for damage you are legally entitled to recover from another party when that person’s liability insurance is not adequate to cover your loss.
This coverage protects you from loss caused by damage to your auto by collision with another object.
This coverage pays for other losses to your auto. Included is damage or loss to your auto caused by fire, theft, glass breakage, falling objects, natural disasters, vandalism and other causes of loss.
You can round out your protection with these optional coverages:
- Towing and labor costs coverage, to pay for emergency repairs and/or towing when your car breaks down.
- Rental reimbursement for the expense of renting a substitute vehicle when there is a loss to your car.
Many factors affect your auto insurance premiums, including the number of years you’ve been driving, the state in which you live, the make and model of your car, where your car is garaged and your driving record. Although you can’t do much about some of these factors, here are some things you can do to help lower your premiums:
- Increase your deductible.
- Ask about available discounts (e.g., low-mileage discounts, discounts for safety or antitheft devices).
- Insure all your vehicles with one company – multi-vehicle discounts are substantial
- Avoid buying a vehicle that is prone to theft or expensive to repair.
- Drive safely to establish a good driving record.
- If you work, rideshare. Lower annual mileage can lower insurance premiums.
- If you are age 55 or older, consider an approved driver safety course. Our companies offer a discount on the liability portion of your premium for completion of an approved driver safety course.
When you start thinking about a new car or truck, these safety features should be included among the factors that influence your buying decision.
- Airbags for both driver and front seat passenger
- Antilock brakes
- Side impact protection
- Head restraints
- Safety belts
Where To Get Additional Information
It’s hard to compare the safety of one specific car with another because so many factors contribute to performance. However, the following sources can help give you a picture of how safe you and your family might be in different makes and models.
Crash Tests – The U.S. Department of Transportation conducts 35mph crash tests on about 30 cars each year. The results appear in many automotive and consumer news publications, available at most libraries and newsstands. These tests indicate how well a car performs in serious frontal crashes but, because each test crash involves two identical cars, comparisons are only valid between cars of similar size and weight.
Death Rates – The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety publishes lists of recent-model cars according to occupant death rates per 10,000 registered vehicles. Such rates are influenced, of course, by driver behavior as well as vehicle design.
Insurance Claims – The Highway Loss Data Institute publishes information on the likelihood of having an insurance injury claim in various cars, compared with others and the comparative amounts of vehicle damage losses from collision. As with death rates, these figures are influenced both by vehicle design and driver characteristics. The numbers tend to reflect mostly minor and moderate injuries, which happen with much greater frequency than serious or fatal accidents.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
1005 North Glebe Road
Arlington, VA 22201
Once they get behind the wheel of a car, or ride along with a friend, it’s important that your teen knows the risks as well as the rewards of the open road. Making sure your teen is safe during these times requires understanding, involvement and firmly set limits.
Teens are at a greater risk for accidents and fatalities than any other group of drivers. There are a number of reasons for this sobering statistic but they fall into four factors:
- Risk-taking behaviors
- Greater risk exposure
It’s always a good idea to make sure you have adequate insurance to cover any exposure, but with a teen driver in the house, the risk becomes even bigger.
The hard truth is, when you add a teen driver to your auto insurance policy, you are assuming responsibility for their actions. If your child is a minor and gets into a serious accident where property and lives are at stake, the ramifications are not just emotional. An injured party or property owner could go after your assets and the costs are often staggering. That’s the last thing any of us wants to happen, but it could.
So parents, before you hand over the keys…
- Contact our office to discuss auto insurance needs for your teen driver.
- Look through the Teen Driving Parent Guide
- Print the Behind the Wheel Worksheet and complete with your teen.
- Sit down with your teen to talk about and sign the Teen Driving Contract. If the contract we provide doesn’t cover all the driving issues important to your family, feel free to use it as a starting point.
If you’ve ever been involved in an auto accident, you know how stressful it can be. Most people are flooded with a mix of emotions and worries. You’ll be concerned about everyone’s safety and anxious about your vehicle. You might be angry at the other driver. Then there’s the fear about what impact the accident will have on your driving record and your insurance. All those things can make it hard to think clearly and respond properly. And if there are injuries, the stress can be amplified. But that’s when a clear head and quick action are really crucial. Here are some tips for getting through an accident with a minimum of hassle and headaches.
- After an accident, getting help for the injured is always the first priority.
- Regardless of the circumstances, report the accident to the police.
- Record the name, address and phone number of the other driver. Write down the make and license number of all vehicles involved. You’ll want to get as much information as you can about the other driver’s insurance agent, policy and insurance company.
- Don’t forget to collect the names, addresses and phone numbers of passengers and witnesses. Since many cases end up with the parties blaming each other, third-party witnesses can be important. Don’t hesitate to approach anyone who may have seen the crash.
- Be careful of what you say. Don’t talk about fault; even casual remarks can be used in court.
- Examine the damage carefully. Take photos if possible, particularly if the accident occurred on private property, such as a parking lot.
- Without being overly suspicious, observe the other driver’s actions. If the other driver later claims to have a serious injury, what you notice could be important.
- Stay calm.
- Notify our office immediately at 805-781-6336.
Remember, these incidents are the reason you have insurance in the first place. We know that no car wreck is ever minor if you’re involved. We’re here so that you can relax a little, knowing that Engle & Associates are on your side doing everything possible to ease your stress and give you peace of mind.