April 20th, 2015
Car owners looking to drive across the country this summer had better make sure their car insurance can handle it. Whether it's a family road trip, college break or a solo driving adventure, most drivers need to be ready for unexpected surprises they might find on their expedition. Before one begins a summer road trip, he or she needs to ask these questions:
How does location affect insurance coverage?
The first thing a driver needs to consider is where they are going. Are they leaving the state or country? Each state has a different minimum liability rate. If a car owner purchased a rather inexpensive policy for his or her state, it might not provide coverage in another. A policyholder can check to see if their contract has a broadcasting clause. This clause will increase the coverage to the minimum of whichever state he or she is in. If the policy doesn't have a broadcasting clause, road trippers might want to check the minimum liability rate for their destination or states they are driving through.
A driver planning to leave the country should be aware that some insurance policies don't automatically cover incidents in Mexico. Even plans which offer optional coverage for Mexico might include exceptions and limitations. Canada is usually covered and so are non-connected U.S. states and territories like Alaska and Puerto Rico (although, a road trip probably won't feature either). Before setting out to drive to distant locations, a driver should be aware of the possible geographic limitations of his or her policy.
Are additional drivers covered?
If driving with friends for long periods of time, the odds are the group is going to want to take turns at the wheel. In a Bankrate advice column, Richard Ward, director of the Metlife auto claim department, clarified the terms of additional driver coverage. Ward stated most insurance policies will at least partially cover any driver provided they have the car owner's consent. If the car owner is not present on the trip - like if a father loaned his car to his daughter and her friends for a summer vacation - it is important the owner is aware of what the driver intends to use the car for. A driver shouldn't take a car out of state if he or she only has permission to drive it around town.
What if there is a trailer attached?
Parents know how much additional effort goes into chauffeuring kids across the country. For one thing, a family of five is going to have a lot of luggage. A driver might think of hauling additional vacation freight in a trailer attached to the back of his or her vehicle. Hitchsource.com suggested most insurance policies will cover the liability for a trailer connected to an insured vehicle but some state's could require the trailer to have separate coverage. Even if the trailer is covered for liability, a driver might want to look into getting separate comprehensive or collision coverage to protect the trailer and the items it contains.
Does the insurance provide roadside assistance?
A driver might also need to make room for a spare tire and jack when packing for a long trip. If not, a car owner should obtain roadside assistance. A driver might already have roadside assistance provided as a perk when they bought their vehicle. There are other avenues to explore when in the market for a roadside assistance program. If one does have assistance provided by his or her insurance, Rick Crawley, Progressive's research and development director, shared some roadside services to look for, according to Bankrate. Crawley encouraged drivers to make sure their policy offers services that will keep them going, like towing and rental car replacement. Drivers don't want an unseen accident or breakdown to ruin their summer vacation. By making sure their insurance policy covers them in every eventuality, summer drivers can hit the road ready for anything.
CoverHound offers an easy-to-use website to compare car insurance quotes.