No one plans to have an auto accident but it does happen. If it happens to you, here are some steps to take to determine if you need to file a claim and when to involve the police.
When to file a claim
Determine how much damage your vehicle has sustained. Was it just a fender bender? Filing a claim may increase your auto insurance premium. If the damage was minor and will cost less than your deductible to repair it, it is usually best to go ahead and pay for the repairs yourself.
Is a police report needed?
If injuries are involved, call 911 immediately. If it is determined that everyone is okay, call the non-emergency police number. You must have a police report in order to file a claim.
Your next step is to call your insurance agent. If it is determined that you are not at fault your insurance company can act as your advocate and will take on the responsibility of dealing with the other driver’s insurance company.
Get the Details
- If possible, move the involved vehicles off the roadway to avoid another accident &/or injuries from happening.
- If available, use your phones camera to take pictures at the scene, including the damage to both vehicles. Include a picture of the other vehicles license plate.
- Exchange names, phone numbers and insurance information. You can copy the information from the other person’s insurance card or take a picture of it as well.
- If the police are involved request a copy of the police report. If you don’t receive a copy of the report at the time of the accident, you can request a copy from the courthouse. Accident reports are public record and are available to anyone for a small fee.
- The other insurance company will call you to verify your information and ask you questions regarding the accident. Write down the date, time and the name of the person calling you from the other insurance company. Let your insurance company know that the conversation took place.
- Complete all paperwork sent to you regarding the accident and return it promptly. The sooner the claim is filed the quicker you can get any necessary repairs made to your vehicle and get you back on the road again!
Download our free claims process tip sheet!
Insurance Advisors, Inc.
Watch For Deer While Driving!
For those of us who live in Minnesota, we are well aware that most any season is “peak” for deer and auto collision. Here are some tips to prevent a collision between your car and a deer.
- Pay attention to your surroundings.
Look for the yellow traffic sign with a deer on it. If you see one, it means you’re entering an area with an active, concentrated deer population. Make sure your eyes are always moving, and pay particular attention to the side of the road. AND, don’t forget to pay attention to what other cars are doing. The car in front of you may brake suddenly. If you notice something out of the ordinary, slow down.
- One deer probably equals many more.
Deer usually travel in herds, so if you see one cross the road, look immediately to where the deer came from. There are probably others ready to cross. Deer are most active between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
- High beams, high beams, high beams.
Use your high beams as much as oncoming traffic will allow. High beams do a great job lighting up the road in front of you, especially the side of the road where the herd may be hanging out. If you feel your head lights aren’t lighting up the road properly, consider taking your car to your local mechanic for a check up. A headlight may be burned out or need an adjustment.
- Never swerve for a deer or other animal.
While swerving is an instinct many of us feel when an animal runs in the road, it can put you in a more dangerous situation. Swerving can cause you to lose control of your car, put you in the lane of oncoming traffic, or cause you to hit a tree or ditch and overturn your vehicle. The best techniques are to remind yourself not to swerve and to braked firmly.
- Consider purchasing deer whistles.
While there is conflicting data on whether or not deer whistles actually work, they’re a cheap precautionary measure. I believe it’s worth giving them a try.
- Stay calm and safe.
If you do hit a deer, another natural instinct is to get out of your car to check the damage. But can you really determine the extent of the damage just by looking at it? Probably not. I recommend you stay in your car. From there, you can do a number of things that will keep you and your family safe:
Call 911 Turn on your hazard light Call your insurance agent
- Knowledge is power.
Make sure you understand what coverage’s and limits of insurance you have on your auto insurance policy. Comprehensive insurance provides coverage for damage that results from hitting an animal. Without that coverage, you’ll be left with the bill.
Bikers & Motorists Need to Share the Road
Heavier than normal traffic during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally requires bikers and drivers to share the road for safety, officials with the South Dakota Highway Patrol and Office of Highway Safety caution.
Motorcycle traffic has increased since early summer and likely will continue to be heavy through the end of August. There has already been eight fatal crashes involving motorcycles this year. “Rally Time” puts thousands more motorcycles on the highways. Many of the fatal injury crashes involving motor cycles happen to inexperienced drivers.
The Highway Patrol reminds motorcyclists and motorists alike of the rules for sharing the road. Once again, it pays to follow a few safety tips.
- Motorcyclists should ride in single-file lines and avoid crowding he center line or crowding motorists.
- Motorists should remember not to crowd cycles. Motorcycles have the same rights on the road as motorists.
- Motorists and cyclists should follow the recommended speed limits. Motorcyclists should be especially aware of speed limits on curves.
- It is against the law to drink and drive. Motorists and cyclists must be sober when driving.
- Motorists, remember to buckle up. It’s the law.
- Motorcyclists are encouraged to wear helmets.
A Peace Of Mind With Fluffy In The Car
Some auto insurers are providing motorists with a little more peace of mind when they’re behind the wheel with Fido or Fluffy. Special car insurance helps cover the cost of care if pets are injured in an auto accident.
This isn’t pet health insurance which covers a pet that needs treatment at a veterinarian’s office. Instead an auto insurer’s pet-injury coverage typically kicks in if a pet is traveling in your car, is injured in an accident and needs veterinary care. Some policies also pay out if the pet is killed in a crash. (Also be aware that pet owners can take precautions to keep their pets safer in cars.)
Progressive was the first car insurance company to offer pet coverage, starting in 2007. Other car insurance companies have followed suit. If you are shopping for a car insurance plan that covers pets, be aware that coverage varies by insurer.
Tips for traveling by car with pets
Cats should be in a cage or in a special carrier to allow them to feel secure and prevent them from crawling under your feet while you’re driving.
A dog that must ride in a truck bed should be in a protective kennel that is fastened to the truck bed. Dogs riding in a car should not ride in the passenger seat if it equipped with an airbag, and should not be allowed to sit on the driver’s lap.
Harnesses, tethers and other accessories to secure pets during car travel are available at most pet stores.
Pets should not be allowed to ride with their heads outside car windows. Particles of dirt or other debris can enter the eyes, ears and nose, causing injury or infection.
Insurance Advisors, Inc.
American Veterinary Medical Association
What’s The Best Car For A First Time Driver?
Parents who are car shopping for teen drivers know that deciding which factors to prioritize can be difficult. The goal is to make the most sensible choice. You will need to consider three factors above all others: safety, reliability, and true cost to own. Auto insurance is the first element of added cost because of the experience and risk factor. The second cost is related to maintenance and reliability.
Things To Consider
The size of your teen’s vehicle plays a significant role in its overall safety. Parents should avoid the smallest vehicle, since even a subcompact with the best crash test scores won’t provide as much collision protection as a large vehicle. Parents should avoid the largest vehicles as well, since these can be difficult to maneuver for new drivers. Midsize cars are best because of their ideal mix of crash protection and maneuverability. AAA recommends that parents avoid SUVs when shopping for teens, saying that the vehicles are “more prone to roll over in extreme driving conditions.” The newer models are safer than older ones because they offer stability control.
Four-cylinder engines offer adequate power, but not so much that they’re likely to tempt teen drivers into engaging in risky behavior. “Teens overestimate their skills and underestimate the risks of driving, so choose a vehicle accordingly. Driving behavior is the most crucial factor affecting your teen driver’s safety behind the wheel. Still, it’s clear a safe vehicle fosters a safer driving experience.
The 2009-2013 models listed below all offer top crash test scores and low TCO (True Cost to Own). And, all used models appear on CarMD’s Vehicle Health Index, which means they rank among the top 10 percent of all vehicles on the road when it comes to dependability.
- 2009 Honda Accord
- 2009 Toyota Camry
- 2010 Chevrolet Malibu
- 2010 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2011 Hyundai Sonata
- 2012 Honda Accord
- 2012 Hyundai Sonata
- 2012 Toyota Camry
- 2012 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2013 Chevrolet Malibu
What is No-Fault Coverage?
No fault coverage is widely misunderstood. Many drivers believe that their insurance company will cover ALL losses in an accident, regardless of who is at fault. But “no-fault” coverage applies ONLY to expenses resulting from injuries sustained in an accident. Here are some other facts about no-fault coverage.
No-Fault is a Minnesota law.
It was established to help ease the burden of courts and to ensure prompt treatment for accident victims.
No-fault IS the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) on your policy, sometimes referred to as Basic Economic Loss Benefits.
No-fault covers your medical costs, wage loss, replacement services such as housekeeping, and in the event of death, $2,000 of funeral expenses.
No-fault claims are first made on your own PIP. If expenses then prove greater than the PIP limit on your policy, or you attain specified thresholds, you may make a claim against the other driver’s liability coverage if the other driver is found to be liable.
Minimum no-fault coverage is $40,000. That amount is available to each person injured in an accident; $20,000 is allowed for medical expenses and $20,000 may be used for non-medical expenses. Coverage beyond these minimum amounts may be purchased.
No-fault usually does not apply to accidents when you are riding your motorcycle or snowmobile. You must purchase a separate insurance policy covering these vehicles, and the policies will not include personal injury protection. PIP coverage for snowmobiles or motorcycles can, however, be purchased separately.
Renting a car? Are you covered?
Minnesota law requires every auto insurance policy, under the property damage liability portion, to provide a minimum of $35,000 in coverage, without a deductible, for damage to, and loss of use of, a rental car (including pickup trucks and vans under 26,000 pounds.) State law further specifies that when a driver rents a vehicle in Minnesota, separate notice must be attached to the rental contract that informs the driver of this coverage. The notice must also state: “purchase of any collision damage waiver or similar insurance affected in this rental contract is not necessary if your policy was issued in Minnesota.” The same law requires that no collision damage waiver or other insurance affecting the rented vehicle can be sold unless the person renting the vehicle acknowledges in writing that the consumer protection notice has been read and understood.
Loaning your car to a friend?
If you loan your car to a friend, and he or she has an accident, their injuries will be covered under their own policy, not yours – assuming they have an auto policy. If they do not have their own policy, and no one in their household is covered under a policy, the basic economic loss benefits will be paid from your policy.