This post comes from Barbara Marquand at partner site CarInsurance.com.
Before the next storm hits, learn how your car insurance coverage applies to common winter driving hazards.
1. I had to abandon my car
Before leaving your stuck car, call for emergency roadside service, says Mary Bonelli, senior vice president of public information for the Ohio Insurance Institute. The charges would be covered if you have roadside assistance through your car insurance or membership in a roadside-assistance program, such as AAA. In addition, some carmakers, such as Lexus and Acura, provide emergency roadside assistance as part of a warranty package for new-car buyers.
Of course if conditions are treacherous, you could be in for a long wait. About 500 motorists abandoned vehicles on Chicago’s famous Lake Shore Drive in a blizzard a few years ago that dumped almost 2 feet of snow on the city.
And if bad goes to worse and your car is vandalized after you leave it behind, comprehensive car insurance would apply, Bonelli says. Comprehensive insurance is an optional coverage that pays for losses that result from theft, vandalism, natural disasters and other factors unrelated to traffic accidents. You’ll have to pay your comprehensive coverage deductible, however.
2. I hit a curb
Collision coverage, which is optional, pays for damages to your car resulting from a collision with another car or object, or as a result of flipping over.
“In this instance, the curb would be considered an ‘object’ by most insurers and, as such, hitting a curb would come under collision coverage,” says Michael Barry, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute. The same goes for potholes.
However, it might be worth getting an estimate or two for repairs before filing a claim, Bonelli says. “If the loss is close to your deductible, you wouldn’t likely file it.”
3. I slid down an icy hill and hit parked cars along the way
Do whatever you can to contact the owners of the parked vehicles.
“Leave notes on their cars with your insurance information and then get their license plate numbers,” Barry says.
Your collision coverage would pay for damage to your vehicle, and your auto insurance liability coverage would pay for damage to the other cars.
If the situation were reversed and someone hit your parked car but did not leave information, your uninsured motorist coverage would pay for the damage, Bonelli says.
4. I was towed
Auto insurance coverage will not apply if your vehicle was parked illegally when it was towed, Bonelli says.
Whether the local jurisdiction makes you pay towing fees depends on the situation. After the recent blizzard, the city of Chicago did not give citations or charge motorists to claim vehicles that were towed from Lake Shore Drive.
Call your roadside-assistance provider if you need a tow in order to avoid having the city tow your car away.
5. I couldn’t get into my car because the lock was iced shut
Again, call your roadside-assistance provider, whether that service is through your car insurance company, car dealer or motorist club.
“There’s a chance this would be covered through these services or even OnStar,” Bonelli says.