Winter Driving Hazards - Part 2

Crash-related vehicle repairs and injuries are expensive. The amount of money owed can be financially devastating when you are legally responsible for another party's damages. Individuals typically turn to an insurance company for help with these costs.  Keep the following points in mind before an accident occurs:

  • Review policy limits, coverages, terms, and conditions annually and adjust as necessary. Confirm all vehicles and drivers in your household are properly insured. If appropriate, look into optional endorsements for towing, rental car expense, gap coverage for a leased vehicle, etc. Verify vehicle insurance identification cards are accurate, up to date, and in the glove box.
  • Illinois law requires liability insurance on all licensed motor vehicles. Liability pays when you cause a crash and are legally responsible for another person's damages. It also pays for a legal defense. Minimum limits are $25,000/$50,000 for bodily injury and $20,000 for property damage. You may need higher limits to protect your financial assets adequately.
  • Physical damage covers your vehicle. Illinois law does not require physical damage insurance, but lenders do. There are two parts. Collision pays for damage from a crash with another car or fixed object. Comprehensive pays for damage due to theft, vandalism, hail, rock chip, animal hit, and more. Deductibles affect both coverages, so adjust your emergency fund accordingly.
  • Contact your insurer as soon as possible following an accident. Check the policy's 'Loss Settlement Provisions' for your responsibilities. Your company will not pay for repairs to your vehicle without the appropriate physical damage coverage. A claim number and adjuster will be assigned to the loss. Expect a detailed claim investigation to confirm coverage, how the loss occurred, assess damages, and prepare a settlement offer. Not cooperating in the adjuster's investigation may jeopardize your claim.
  • Asking another driver's insurance company to pay your damages is a third-party liability claim. Again, an adjuster will be assigned to conduct a thorough review of the crash. Third-party claims are settled according to terms outlined in the other person's policy.