Your Weird Auto Insurance Questions, Answers

Reading most auto insurance policies could knock out even a hyperactive coffee-drinking toddler in 60 seconds flat. I’ve read a lot, and believe me, it’s not easy. But there are some important things buried in there about what your policy covers and what it doesn’t. And if you don’t want to go through all of these pages yourself, you have to find another way to figure out what kind of cover you need.

So I’m here to walk you through some of the finer points of auto insurance by answering a few questions about some rather unusual claims.

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A turkey attacked my car. Is it covered?

Before I roll my eyes and say how ridiculous it is, it happened to me a few weeks ago. I went to my front door to investigate some mysterious beatings outside and found a puffy, face-facing monster in my rear bumper, ready to fight to the death. Fortunately, I was able to chase it away before it did any real damage.

In my case it would have been covered if he had scratched my car because I have full coverage. This type of auto insurance coverage handles all types of vehicle-wildlife interactions. You don’t need this type of insurance by law in any state, but your lender will require it if you have a lease or loan on your car.

Even if you don’t need it, it’s usually a good idea. In addition to covering damage caused by wildlife encounters, comprehensive coverage also covers losses due to theft, vandalism and natural disasters. You never know when a hailstorm is going to punch a hole in your windshield. Or when a turkey is going to mark your vehicle as Public Enemy # 1, then prevention is better than cure.

A mattress flew from the back of my truck and hit another car. Will my insurance cover this?

This is another semi-autobiographical story. It actually happened when my family helped me move to a new place a few years ago. Fortunately, in our case, the mattress rolled a bit on the freeway and didn’t hit anyone.

If that was the case, the unfortunate driver’s claim would have been covered by our liability insurance. This is the coverage that all states require drivers to have, and it comes in two types: bodily injury and property damage. Personal injury coverage pays medical bills if the other driver or their passengers are injured. Property damage coverage pays to repair their car and any other property you may have damaged in the accident.

At least, that’s how it works in offending states. In no-fault states, every driver files personal injury claims with their own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault. You have Personal Injury Protection Coverage (PIP) that pays for your medical bills. But the driver at fault should also file a claim for damage to the other vehicle.

I run over my neighbor’s ferret. What does my insurance cover?

I’ve had animals that have been run over, but ferrets haven’t, and that’s no fun. As a driver in this situation, you should definitely stop and give your insurance information to the owner. As to whether or not you are held responsible, it is a legal question and you will need to speak to a lawyer to settle this.

If you are found liable, your liability insurance should cover the veterinarian’s expenses and any damage to someone else’s property. If the accident caused damage to your car – for example, if you swerved off the road and into a tree while trying to avoid the animal – that would be covered by collision coverage. Similar to full coverage, it’s not required by state law, but most lenders do require you to have it.

Collision coverage pays for repairs to your car following an accident, even if you were at fault. If you don’t have this coverage, you pay the full cost of the repairs yourself, so it’s risky to go without.

How to make sure you have the right insurance coverage

If you don’t want to go through your auto insurance policy line by line to determine what is covered and what is not, you can always call your insurer to find out. They can also advise you on the amount of auto insurance you need and the type of coverage you should consider if you are looking to increase your policy limits or purchase a new policy.

At a minimum, you need liability coverage, although the amount you need to have varies by state. Your lender, if you have one, will also require collision insurance and full coverage, as discussed above. You may also need to have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in your state, and it’s wise to have it even if you don’t need it. This protects you if you are struck by an offending driver without insurance or a driver with insufficient coverage to pay the full cost of your claims.

There are tons of other things you can add to your policy, like roadside assistance, gap coverage, and accident remission, but these are completely optional. You will need to decide if they are right for you before purchasing your policy. And again, don’t be afraid to contact an auto insurance company and ask them if there’s anything you don’t understand about their coverage, no matter how odd your question may be. .

About Janet Young

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