Fender-bender preparedness

Question from Harold P. from Fishers:

We got our first dose of winter weather this week, and I was reminded that people completely forget how to drive when snow hits the ground. I witnessed a minor fender-bender and am wondering what I need to do if that happens to me.

Response from Jamie Ianigro:

Experiencing an automobile accident is always scary, no matter how minor. Your independent insurance agent should be able to provide you with a card to keep in your glove box to remind you of everything you need to do if an accident occurs. Here is what we recommend.

1. Take a deep breath and assess the situation. Get your vehicle and passengers out of further harm if the vehicle is still operable.

2. Make sure that no one in your vehicle requires immediate medical attention. Check the occupants of any other vehicle involved next.

3. Call the police. It doesn’t matter how minor the accident is. Having a police report filed will make your claim process much smoother.

4. Exchange insurance information and record the details. Make sure the other driver’s insurance is not out of date. Get their phone number, address, license plate number and the make and model of their car to make filing your claim easier.

5. Pull out your camera phone and snap some pictures of your car from every angle and of any damage it now has.

6. Obtain a copy of the police report and call your independent agent to file a claim.

Driving without insurance coverage in Indiana is illegal and a great way to end up with a suspended license or serious financial problems if you are involved in an accident. The starting point for insurance in Indiana is the required state-minimum coverage. The minimums are $25,000 per injured person, $50,000 per accident and $10,000 for property damage. The current cost of medical expenses and auto repair make it pretty easy to see that those amounts are not going to get you very far when it’s time to settle a claim. They also provide you zero protection from motorists who drive around without insurance or with the inadequate state minimum insurance.

I recommend limits of $250,000 per injured person, $500,000 per accident and $100,000 for property damage with an endorsement to protect you from uninsured and underinsured motorists. These raised limits will also allow you to add a personal umbrella policy to further protect you in extreme cases. You can also get a nice discount by packaging these policies together with your homeowners policy. Adding comprehensive and collision coverages and adjusting the cost of your deductibles is something you should talk with your independent agent about. Let me know if you have any further questions about this and drive safely.