Auto insurance and those summer trips
Come the fall, the retired and monied folk who live in the northern regions look up in the sky and see birds getting ready to fly south. Like these snowbirds, they also seek leisure time where it’s warmer and drive or fly down to Arizona, Southern California, Florida and Texas. The same lifestyle itch affects most people as the summer months come along. This is also the time to hit the road and find somewhere by sea or lake, mountain or valley for a little rest and relaxation. But, before you set off, there are a few basic precautions to take. It starts with the vehicles. Hopefully, you had everything ready for the winter. You prepared for freezing weather with carburetor settings and the addition of antifreeze to the cooling system. Now comes the time to change the set-up for summer driving. As the temperature rises, there’s more of a chance of leaks so check the clips and hoses, make sure the belts are tight and the fluid levels are topped up. How are the tires? If you’re suddenly going to take off down the interstate at higher speed than usual, you want to avoid a blow-out. With the cost of gas still edging up toward the $4 per gallon, you want the engine running lean and change your own driving styles to a more even tempo. Less aggressive acceleration and braking saves gallons over longer distances.
Now let’s come to the insurance policy. You can plan your road trip for months but, if things go wrong, there can be a mass of unexpected bills to pay. The first step is to make sure your policy covers you for out-of-state driving. Now assume you are stuck. What might you need? It could be something simple like a helpful mechanic to jump start the vehicle when the battery has run down or to deliver fluids to temporarily solve a problem of overheating. Even more annoying, suppose you locked yourself out of the vehicle. Solving any one of these problems involves a basic callout fee plus expenses plus an hourly rate plus the cost of any materials supplied. Then what do you do while waiting for essential repairs. Did you budget for overnight accommodation? Can you afford a rental replacement while the repairs are done?
There are a range of additions to the standard auto insurance policy that cover interruptions to your journey. But be careful what you buy. Some policies require you to be at least one-hundred miles from home or have other conditions to fulfill before you can claim. Then look at the amount of the cover. Most pay expenses up to $1,000 for the cost of essential repairs, accommodation and food. Are you feeling unlucky? More importantly, watch out for the anti-fraud conditions. Some policies ask whether the problem is one you should have fixed before you set out. It’s not unknown for dishonest drivers to try claiming the cost of routine maintenance as emergency repairs while on holiday.
Just as your vehicle could do with a tune-up before you set off, so your auto insurance policy should be reviewed to ensure you have the right terms and reasonable limits on the amount you can claim.