COLUMBUS — If you're planning a summer road trip, it’s crucial to review your auto insurance before you hit the road. In case you’re involved in an accident, it’s also important to know what happens when you file a claim.
“Many Ohioans plan on hitting the road this Memorial Day weekend to visit family and friends,” said the Ohio Department of Insurance. “Taking a few minutes to review your insurance policy can provide piece of mind while traveling this holiday.”
The Ohio Department of Insurance offers these tips for consumers planning summer travel:
Before Leaving on Vacation
- Make sure you have your insurance identification card in the car.
- Double-check that the phone numbers for your insurance company or agent are listed on the identification card. If not, make note of these numbers to keep with your insurance identification card.
If You’re In an Accident
- Remain calm.
- Help anyone who is injured, but don’t move the injured. Call for an ambulance if needed.
- Contact the proper law enforcement authorities and inform them of any injuries. Ask the investigating officer how to obtain a copy of the accident report.
- Obtain the full names and addresses of those involved and witnesses – get license numbers and makes of vehicles involved-get directions, route number and road conditions-exchange names and insurance companies.
- Do not discuss whose fault the accident was.
- Take pictures using your cell phone or a camera of the vehicles involved and the accident scene, if possible.
- Report the accident to your insurance agent or company as soon as possible.
What to Expect After the Accident
- If your car was damaged as result of another driver’s negligence, the other driver’s insurance company may provide you a rental car or reimburse you for the use of a rental vehicle during the vehicle repair or claims settlement process. If you are filing a claim with your own insurance company, the use of a rental car during the vehicle repair or claims settlement process is typically a coverage that can be purchased. Check to see if your policy includes such coverage and what dollar or timeframe limitations exist.
- If an uninsured driver causes the accident, you can file a claim with your insurance company. If you had purchased collision or uninsured motorist property damage coverage, your insurance company will pay the costs to repair or replace your damaged vehicle, less the applicable deductible.
- Even if your claims adjuster recommends a specific body shop, you may choose to have your car repaired at the body shop of your choice. To avoid any confusion, be sure to notify the claims adjuster which body shop you would like to repair your car, before any of the work is done.
If Your Car Is a Total Loss
- If the damage to your car is extensive, and the claims adjuster determines the cost to repair your car is greater than the value of your car, the insurance company might choose to declare your car a total loss. The insurer will determine the actual cash value of your vehicle immediately before the loss.
Ramifications of Filing a Claim
- An accident filed with your insurance company may cause your insurance premiums to increase at renewal. Premium increases are more likely when the accident is your fault; however, an insurance company might also raise your premiums if you have more than one not-at-fault accident within a policy period. If you have questions about the premiums you are being charged, contact your insurance agent or company for explanation.
Ohio insurance consumers with questions and concerns about their insurance or who wish to file a complaint against their insurance company can call the Department’s consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526. Free information can also be obtained at www.insurance.ohio.gov.