5 winter driving mishaps: How car insurance comes to the rescue

By Barbara Marquand on January 6th, 2014

Snowy weather can get the best of even the safest drivers, but in many cases car insurance can come to the rescue.

Here's how your coverage comes into play in the following five scenarios:

1. I got stuck in the snow.

Check whether you have emergency roadside service through your car insurance company, membership in an auto club, such as AAA, or as part of your car's warranty package. Keep the number for assistance in your vehicle, and call for help if you get stuck. If you have to abandon the car, then call before leaving the vehicle behind. Notify your local state patrol if you have to leave the car on a state highway or interstate, and let officers know about your plans to have it moved.

2. I slid into a pole.

You must have collision insurance, which is an optional form of coverage, to file a claim. Collision insurance covers damage to your car from a collision with another vehicle, object, or from rolling over.

You might want to get an estimate first, though, to see if it's worth filing a claim. If the cost to repair is close to the deductible, then you're better off paying for the repairs yourself and avoiding a claim that could increase your car insurance rates.

3. I hit a patch of ice and crashed into a parked car.

Leave a note with your name and insurance information on the other car. Your property liability coverage would pay for damage to the other car, and your collision insurance, if you have it, would pay to repair your vehicle.

4. Someone slid into my parked car and drove away.

Your uninsured motorist policy might provide coverage, depending on your state's insurance laws and the insurance company's guidelines. If uninsured motorist insurance doesn't pay out, then you could file a claim on your collision insurance.

5. My car was stolen while it was warming up.

It's against the law in some jurisdictions to leave an unattended car running. At best, it's a bad idea. Even so, comprehensive insurance would still pay for the loss if police were unable to recover the stolen vehicle. Like collision insurance, comprehensive coverage is optional and comes with a deductible. It covers theft as well as damage from vandalism, natural disasters and collisions with animals.

Review your car insurance policy so you know what type of coverage you have, and contact your agent or company if you have questions or want to add coverage.

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