Updated September 4, 2019 . AmFam Team
Since you’re a savvy driver, you likely have the legal amount of auto insurance required by your state — which is super important! But there are actually a number of optional car insurance coverages available to provide protection for situations you might not have thought about.
We’ve highlighted some additional car coverages to consider when crafting your auto policy, so you get a broader range of protection and greater peace of mind when you hit the road. Let’s take a look.
You might be wondering, “Is it legal to drive a car without insurance?” The short answer is no. Almost every single state requires a minimum amount of bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverage in order for you to legally be behind the wheel. There are a few states that do not require a minimum amount of insurance, but they do have financial responsibility laws that require proof you have sufficient funds to pay damages and medical expenses if you cause an accident. Remember, auto insurance is designed to protect you financially from unexpected events, and having the right coverages in place is key to that protection.
If you’ve been in an accident and your car takes a serious beating, it may be deemed “totaled” by your insurance company. But what does it actually mean if your car is totaled, and what do you do about it?
Because you need the right insurance in place before you hit the road, we’re going to review important additional protections that really can make a big difference — like rental car reimbursement coverage. With it, when you’re wondering “is my car totaled?” after an accident, you’ll have some peace of mind knowing you can rent a car and get where you’re going.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of when a car is considered totaled and what to do if your car is totaled, to help you get back on the road and keep your dreams moving forward.
You work hard at your job to provide for your family, and you save up your vacation time so you can hit the road with them. There’s nothing better than exploring the world together and making great memories . But the pre-vacation excitement can quickly fade if you haven’t prepared properly.
That’s why we’ve come up with some tips to make your car trip as fun and memorable as the sightseeing itself. Read along, learn what essentials to pack for your summer road trip and be ready for the road ahead!
Sending a text, eating your burrito, applying makeup — what do all of these tasks have in common?
They’re all everyday examples of distracted driving.
As a driver, it’s your responsibility to focus on the road to keep you, your passengers, and other people on the road safe from accidents. We’ve put a spotlight on some risky driving behaviors that we hope can help influence you to keep your focus on the road.
Distracted driving is when the driver is doing something that takes their attention away from the task of driving. Any time your eyes and/or mind are taken away from the road, you’re technically distracted, which means an increase in the risk of an accident.
Not all driving distractions are created equal. As you can imagine, some forms of distraction aren’t as dangerous as others. For example, hands-free telephone conversations — although not recommended — isn’t as deadly as other modes of conversation while driving.
It should come as no surprise to you that texting is the most common distraction while driving as well as the most dangerous. It’s so deadly in fact, that it gets its very own section.
It’s easy for us all to see the dangers of texting while driving, but even with that knowledge, so many of us fall into the temptation of sending off a fast text message while behind the wheel. But even a quick text can have horrible consequences.
Just think, when you look at your phone, your focus is on the screen, not the road; one hand is off the wheel to hold your device, and your mind drifts to the message instead of the task at hand: driving safely.
To put it into perspective, if you’re traveling at 55 MPH and you take your eyes off the road and onto your phone, you’ve traveled about 100 yards – the length of a football field! That’s quite a distance to cover driving “blind.”
The National Safety Council reports that one out of every four car accidents in the United States is caused by a distracted driver who was texting. They also reported that texting and driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving while intoxicated.
Let these driving facts be a wake-up call to the extreme dangers of texting while driving.
The truth is that it depends on which state you live in. As of 2020, the Governors Highway Safety Association reports that there is a hand-held cell phone use ban in 22 states, with 48 states banning text messaging for all drivers. Find out the distracted driving laws for your state to ensure you’re following the rules of the road in your state.
It’s always important to know our state laws, and in your state there may very well be no law preventing you from texting while driving. However, for your safety as well as those in your car, and for anyone else sharing the roads with you, it’s best to stick with a firm “no phone use while driving” mentality.
The first step to preventing distracted driving is understanding what it is. In a nutshell, anything that occupies your attention while driving is a distraction. Here are a few notable distractors that should be eliminated while behind the wheel.
When it comes to directions, we’ve come a long way from the world of fold-up maps. Today, everyone has a built-in navigation system in the palm of their hands: the smartphone. The only problem is that just one quick glance at your phone’s screen is all it takes for a costly mistake behind the wheel.
Your best bet is to leave your phone in your pocket or purse when driving. But if you must use your phone for directions, enable the voice feature so that you don’t have to look at the screen for every turn.
Trying to find the right song for your road trip is just as dangerous as texting and driving. Your best bet is to pick a playlist prior to getting into your vehicle. Or listen to the radio. The key here is to keep your eyes on the road and not on your music device.
Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, you name it – all of them bide for our constant attention. Don’t fall prey to this when you’re driving. That post, tweet, or message can wait. Avoid checking social media when behind the wheel.
You may be a pro at eating your burrito on the go, but ingesting your lunch while driving is a big no-no. All it takes is one wayward waffle fry to take your attention from the road to your lap. And it’s not just the mess that distracts; it’s the smell, taste, you name it – that makes eating one of the most distracting things you can do while driving.
There are a few more forms of distracted driving that could cause an accident. If you’re in the driver’s seat, try to avoid these altogether:
There are easy ways to prevent distracted driving. Try using making these five simple changes distracted driving safety tips to have a safer driving experience.
There are many apps available that block texts while driving. Several apps exist with different features, ranging from ones that completely block any incoming or outgoing texts while going a certain speed, to apps that will send a message saying you’re unavailable to respond to an incoming text. Here’s a list from DMV.org with great suggestions for apps to fight distracted driving.
If you’re driving with a passenger (of an appropriate age), hand the directions to them. Even a not-so-great navigator in the passenger seat is better than the person behind the wheel being responsible for both driving and navigating. If you’re driving by yourself, take the time to look at the directions before you set off. Then turn the volume up and let the AI lead the way.
Make multiple playlists that you can choose from before starting the car. If you really need to change it up, either pull over or wait for a red light. Set your presets to stations you already know you like. Hitting one button is better than cranking the dial until you find music you like.
If you’re behind the wheel, just put the phone away. Social media can wait. It’s not going anywhere — that we can promise. Are the notifications too tempting? Turn them off! No comment or new tweet is worth the risk.
If you’re in a rush and want to keep things moving, consider the hazards of driving while eating behind the wheel. Hopefully you can recognize that the risks outweigh the temptation, and you can wait until you get to your destination to eat.
For starters, getting into an at-fault accident will almost always make your insurance premium go up, simply because your insurance company now deems you a higher-risk driver. Distracted driving is no exception. Even if you avoid an accident but you get a ticket for distracted driving, you’re susceptible to those increases in insurance.
Why does distracted driving increase insurance? For starters, you may be getting a discount for having a clean driving record. But if you get a ticket, such as for texting while driving, you may no longer be eligible for that discount, and you’ll notice an increase in your premium. Another reason your insurance might go up goes back to being a higher risk. If you’re guilty of distracted driving, an insurance company will consider you a high-risk driver (meaning you’re more likely to file a claim due to an accident) and they’ll set your premiums higher.
Many of the discounts that insurance companies give out revolve around rewarding drivers for having no claims and a good driving record in general. Don’t let distracted driving take away those perks!
Avoiding distracting driving behaviors is a great way to be safe on the road, and car insurance is a great way to stay protected from the unexpected. With American Family you can customize your car coverage to meet your unique needs. Talk to your agent today to find the right coverage for you.
The Insurance Information Institute claims driving while interacting with a mobile device can increase the odds of a crash by as much as 3.5 times, compared to the risks that a sober, alert and attentive driver faces. Teens are more susceptible to collisions, even when speaking hands-free on a mobile phone. Let’s explore the many ways you can help prevent distracted driving accidents.
How exciting is it to walk into a car dealership and drive out in a brand-new car? That excitement can dwindle, though, if you don’t have the right paperwork and information with you. Avoid that roadblock and read our overview of what to bring when buying a car so you’ll be prepared and ready to drive off the lot.