By Jenn Sanders
For many of us around the US, it is cold out there this winter. Like, really cold. The winter chill isn’t just uncomfortable, it can be hard on your car. If you’re not careful, the cold could lead to car damage.
The increased risk for damage means that the winter cold could affect your car insurance as well. This season, preparation is the key to avoiding risk. Understanding what your personal auto insurance policy does and does not cover can help you from transferring the cost of any risks to your wallet.
1. STRAIN ON YOUR BATTERY
Freezing cold weather is tough on your car’s battery. Cold temperatures can decrease your battery’s capacity, making it more difficult to get your car started, according to Lifewire. Getting your battery checked out before temperatures plunge can help you keep your car running smoothly.
If your car’s battery reaches the end of its life this winter, there’s some bad news: your insurance probably will not cover its replacement. The good news is that batteries can cost as little as $75, likely far below your deductible.
2. LOWER TIRE PRESSURE
The cold air can cause the air in your tires to become underinflated, which can be dangerous for several reasons. Get your tires checked for the colder season and check your tire pressure once per month, in the morning when the tires are cold, says AccuWeather. Underinflated tires can be more difficult to handle, which is not something you want on slick winter roads!
In more extreme circumstances, an underinflated tire could lead to a blowout. Tire blowouts are generally only covered when they’re a result of an accident. Your tire itself is not usually covered by insurance and any damage to the rim or wheel from a blowout may or may not be covered, depending on the circumstances. Damage from underinflated tires would likely not be covered by your insurance since that is a maintenance issue.
Taking care of your tires and tire pressure during the cold months is essential - you don’t want to cause damage to your car that insurance won’t cover! Check with your insurance agent to see what your specific policy covers when it comes to your tires.
3. WINTER TIRES
Speaking of tires, freezing temperatures mean icy roads. Your regular tires may not be up to snuff on more slippery roadways and winter tires would be necessary.
If you switched out your usual tires for a snow-suited set, your insurer could reward you for that. Whether it’s a discount or reimbursement, talk with your agent to see if your insurer offers incentives for making the switch.
4. ICY OBSTACLES
With ice and snow come icicles and heavy wintery messes that test the integrity of rooftops and tree branches. These icy perils can mean bad news for cars parked under them. Damage from falling tree branches and icicles can be common this time of year. Luckily, your auto insurance should cover this damage if you carry comprehensive coverage.
Not sure if you have comprehensive? Call your Account Manager and ask. Wintery weather could make it a wise investment.
5. SLIPPERY ROADS
Ice not only falls from the sky this time of year, but it also coats anything and everything, particularly during cold spells. Slick roads are very dangerous for driving and can lead to accidents.
You’re required by your state to carry liability insurance in the case of an accident, but no coverage for damages to your vehicle. Collision coverage is helpful to have during the winter months in case of an accident involving just your vehicle, like one caused by sliding on ice.
Check with your agent to see if collision coverage makes sense for you.
6. SAVING ON YOUR SEASONAL CAR
If you have a convertible or seasonal car, this cold, cold weather means those carefree days of riding around are over. You’ve probably stored your vehicle somewhere safe for the winter months.
If you’ve taken a car off the road for winter, you could save on your insurance coverage since it is very unlikely you’ll get into an accident with the car just sitting in the garage. Call your insurance agent to see if you can reduce or remove coverage during the off-season.
7. SNOWPLOW SNAFUS
If a snow plow causes damage to your car and leaves the scene, that could be considered a hit-and-run. Damage from a plow that keeps on going would likely be covered under your collision coverage. Another reason to consider adding this coverage to your policy!
Ice and snow on the roads mean many towns will salt them to help prevent accidents. While this is helpful in keeping you safer on slippery roads, it can be bad for the undercarriage of your car. Salt can accelerate the wear and tear on your vehicle, leading to rust and damage. Wear and tear is key here - because most insurers would consider not cleaning the salt off your car general maintenance, damage from road salt is likely not covered under your auto insurance.
9. LONGER WAITS
The winter weather can mean an increase in damages all over your area, which can put a strain on insurers working to sort out claims. Preparation and patience when dealing with your insurer can help you resolve any claims you face this winter quicker.
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