If you need your vehicle towed or other roadside service, there are several places to turn for coverage. If your vehicles is under warranty, many warranties include Roadside Assistance. If you have a AAA membership, this also includes Roadside coverage. Even cell phone carriers are getting into the act, offering optional add-on services which include Roadside assistance among other features.
If you don't get Roadside Assistance coverage through any of these sources, you may wish to add coverage to your Auto policy. There are basically two different types of Roadside coverage offered under Auto policies:
Traditionally, insurance companies have offered Towing and Labor coverage, which reimburses you for roadside service you have already obtained. If you have this coverage, your will have to find service, pay for it and then submit your receipt for reimbursement. Coverage is usually limited to a certain dollar amount - $50, $75, $100, $150 and $200 are common limit options.
Sign & Drive Roadside Assistance
More recently a number of insurance companies have began offering true Roadside Assistance. If you need a tow or other service, you would call your insurance company for assistance. They then dispatch a service provider to your location. Coverage is most often limited to towing a certain distance, which may vary from 15 to 100 miles. You won't need to pay anything at the scene, unless your service exceeds the limits included with the coverage.
Regardless of which option is offered by your carrier, it should cover the following basic services:
• Jump starting a dead battery
• Opening your door if you are locked out
• Changing a flat tire
• Fuel delivery if you run out of gas (you will still have to pay for the cost of the gasoline.)
Our agency represents a number of different companies, some of which offer Sign & Drive assistance and others which cover towing on a reimbursement basis. Ask us for more information on the options available to you.
Whether you are on the road, on the water or riding down a trail, one of the risks that you face 'behind the wheel" is being injured in an accident caused by a irresponsible driver, boater or rider. Let's face it - someone who operates their vehicle irresponsibly is unfortunately also less likely to be adequately insured.
If you seriously hurt in an accident, this could have serious financial affects going forward. While I hope that you have good health insurance to cover your resulting medical bills, that won't cover your lost income if you can't work or the special care or assistance you could need if permanently disabled.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage protects you financially if you are injured in an accident caused by someone without any insurance (Uninsured Motorist coverage) or someone with low limits insufficient to fully compensate you for the financial effects of your injury (Underinsured Motorist coverage). Another risk that you face is an accident caused by a hit and run driver; if that driver can't ever be identified, they are "uninsured" for all practical purposes, as you aren't going to be able to collect under their Liability coverage.
Whether you carry this coverage (and how high of limits you carry) could have a serious impact on both your financial future and your quality of life after a serious accident for which someone else is at fault. This coverage is often overlooked but is quite important.
Here's some information on how this coverage works for different types of insurance policies:
On your Auto policy
Minnesota Auto policies are required to include both Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist coverage, at no less than limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. However, most policies are written with higher Uninsured/Underinsured limits equal to your Bodily Injury Liability coverage, which is usually a very small percentage of your overall policy premium.
On your watercraft policy
Unlike Auto policies, watercraft policies don't always include this valuable coverage, even though there are many, many boats out on the water without any insurance at all. Protecting yourself against uninsured boaters is quite inexpensive - maybe $10 or $20 dollars a year on average. Therefore, we usually include it as a standard coverage included on watercraft policies we quote. However, we see many boat policies purchased elsewhere that don't include this valuable protection.
On your motorcycle, ATV or snowmobile policy
Powersports policies also aren't required to carry this protection. Unlike Auto and Watercraft policies, there is a much higher risk of being injured on a bike, sled or four wheeler; so Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist becomes a more expensive option. But for the same reasons, it is protection you should seriously consider paying for. Because of the added expense, we offer this as optional and encourage our clients to seriously consider adding this protection to their powersports policy.
On your Personal Umbrella policy
Personal Umbrella policies provide an additional layer of Liability coverage if you are sued for more than the limits on your Auto, residential, boat or powersports policy. Many Umbrella policies also offer the option to add Excess Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist, which broadens your additional layer of protection, so that it covers not only your risk of being sued if the car accident is your fault to also your risk of financial loss as the victim.
Regardless what we include on our initial quote, we give our clients the final choice on what optional coverages are included in their policies.
We hope you will not find yourself numbered among the nearly ten million car accidents occurring on our nation’s roads each year. But if you are, the experts at the Insurance Information Institute recommend you take at least the following four steps:
1. Assess the damage: Is anyone injured? Can you pull the car off the road to avoid further risk?
2. Call the police or highway patrol. This will hasten proper medical response as well as assistance in protecting the accident site and vehicles. It will also help to document what happened, protecting you against other parties "changing stories" after the accident.
3. Collect as much information as possible. Names and contact information of everyone involved—drivers, passengers and witnesses—are needed. Get the other driver’s license information, auto registration and insurance ID card. Note the location, time of day and weather. Smartphones make an ideal recording device, so be sure to take photos. Keep to fact gathering; this is not the time to admit—or ask the other driver to admit—fault.
4. Notify us as soon as possible. The sooner you get the claims process started, the easier it will be to remember the details of the accident. Acting quickly will also help expedite repairs, medical payments and other covered compensation. Click here for options to report your claim.
Includes content reprinted by permission, The Mines Press, Inc. March 2015
Ken Cobb is owner of Pine Country Insurance and has been active in the insurance industry for over 15 years. Meet Ken.
Coverage descriptions found in this blog are summaries provided for general educational purposes and cannot fully detail the terms, conditions, limitations or exclusions of a specific insurance policy. Please read your policy carefully.