Winter storms often bring a rash of auto claims. Winter driving can be dangerous, so it is essential to stay alert and be smart. Let’s talk about winter driving safety tips, and steps to simplify the claims process should you be involved in an accident.
Here are five winter driving tips:
- Prepare your vehicle for winter. Assure tires are properly inflated, fluid levels are maintained, the gas tank is at least 3/4 full when a storm is approaching, and windshield wiper blades are working well.
- Stock your vehicle. In the event you do get stranded, be sure to have plenty of blankets, some snacks, a good working flashlight, and extra clothes.
- Have something with grit. If you get stuck, it’s always good to have a bag of salt, sand, ice melt, or even kitty litter to provide some traction.
- Dress appropriately. This would include a warm coat, gloves, good shoes or boots, hat, and scarf.
- Don’t be in a hurry. Judge the road conditions and drive accordingly. Try to stay on roads that have been plowed, salted or treated. Drive defensively when in heavy traffic. And remember, black ice can always be a possibility.
Despite your best efforts, should you be involved in an auto accident, keep these five tips in mind to help simplify your claims process:
- Gather as much information as you can at the scene. Take photographs of the damaged vehicle. Snap a shot of the scenery if it’s safe to do so. If multiple parties are involved, try to take pictures of their damage, and always call the police. It never hurts to have a formal document to show what happened at the scene and be sure the police officer provides the report number.
- If another party is involved, trade insurance information as soon as possible if it is safe to do so. Once the police arrive, they often separate the two parties so no contact is made. The police will record the insurance information on the police report, however, this report may not be available until days or, in some extreme cases, weeks later. If you get this information from the start, there is less chance your claim will be delayed.
- Write down details so you don’t forget important information. It’s always helpful to give your claims adjuster the key pieces of information about the claim. Write down what street you were on when the accident happened and what direction you were traveling. Which lane were you in? What time did the accident happen? How was the traffic? Be sure to take note of the weather or road conditions. If you are in an unfamiliar area, write down some local landmarks to help an adjuster pinpoint your location.
- File the claim as soon as possible. The sooner the insurance company knows about the accident, the better. Information that is transferred from the insured to the adjuster is fresher and details are sharper if less time has passed. This gives the adjuster a much fuller picture of the accident, allowing him or her to provide you quicker and more accurate service.
- Remember, it’s a partnership. Your insurance company wants to help you get through this difficult situation as efficiently and painlessly as possible. However, in order to do that, they may need your help. They may ask you to give a statement regarding what happened in the accident, or they may ask you to get an estimate of damages from your body shop of choice so they can properly review the damages. Paperwork, such as your title, may be required to effectively pay out your claim. Although these documents may require some effort, they are essential to providing seamless service in adjusting your claim.
A great resource after an accident is our “What to Do After a Car Accident” brochure. Print a copy and keep it in your glove box as a guide to what information you should collect after an accident. You can also view our What to Do After a Car Accident video for additional tips.
I hope these winter weather driving tips help keep you safe on the road. Stay alert and be smart, but if you find yourself needing to file a weather auto claim, remember these tips to help simplify the claims process.
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