Road trips are all the rage. But is your auto insurance ready for a long drive?
Finding the best auto insurance for extended road trips is more important than ever. A majority of Americans planned to drive to their vacation destinations this summer. Among those traveling, 72% of respondents said they’d be driving their own car to a summer getaway, according to a recent Generali Global Assistance poll. And 9% said they would rent a car.
How do you know if your auto insurance will cover you? You should check before you hit the road.
“If you’re spending long hours on the road—and particularly on roads you may not know well—you’re more exposed to risk,” explains Stephanie Kramer, director of product management at Zendrive, a driving telematics company. “You ideally also need insurance that prioritizes your safety.”
But finding that insurance isn’t easy. Auto insurance companies don’t sell specialized road trip insurance. But you can check your policy for holes, adding coverage where needed and looking at all of your options.
Is There “Road Trip Insurance”?
There’s no special insurance for road trips, but there are ways to make sure you have the best auto insurance coverage possible for extended driving.
Take a look at your current auto insurance policy and find out how much liability insurance you have. If you bought only the minimum your state requires, you’re likely very underinsured. That’s because you’d quickly run out of liability insurance if you cause an accident—and you’re still on the hook for paying the rest. Make sure you have liability coverage of at least $100,000 per person for injuries and $300,000 per accident, known as 100/300. Even better would be limits of 250/500.
Since so many other drivers have no insurance, it’s also wise to make sure you have uninsured motorist coverage. This helps you, not others, if a driver with no insurance crashes into you. It will pay medical bills. It can be even better than health insurance in some respects because it will also pay your lost wages if you can’t work after an accident.
For example, the Insurance Research Council estimates that more than one-quarter of drivers in Florida are uninsured.
And what about bad weather? Or even bad people—like those who steal or vandalize cars? For that you want collision and comprehensive coverage. They cover a wide range of damage to your vehicle, such as hail, floods, vandalism and theft.
Roadside assistance coverage can also be handy, especially if your car breaks down in an unfamiliar area. You can usually add roadside assistance coverage to your auto insurance policy, or sign up with a motor club like AAA.
Jonathan Weinberg, CEO of the car rental site AutoSlash, recommends you take a closer look at AAA membership. AAA offers three different tiers of service: Basic, Plus and Premier.
“All three tiers offer basic tire change, battery service, lockout service, vehicle extrication if you get stuck, fuel delivery if you run out of gas, and a number of other key benefits,” he says.
But Plus members can extend their towing coverage from 3 miles to 100 miles. It provides fuel to get you to the nearest service station, instead of paying for fuel on the Basic plan.
“You also get up to $600 in trip interruption protection compared to the $300 in the Basic tier,” he says.
These extras may not seem important to the everyday driver, but for road trippers they could be indispensable.
Other Ways to be Road Trip Ready
You generally want to have your auto insurance ID with you when you drive anywhere. It’s easy to take it with you if you have it on your phone, through your insurer’s mobile app. Before you set off on vacation, download your auto insurance company mobile app and confirm you can access your ID card.
Finding the best auto insurance for a good price isn’t always easy. One strategy that could work for you: Shop online but buy by phone. That’s what Hilary Bird decided to do when she moved into a self-converted camper van full-time. She narrowed down her choices to a few auto insurance companies online and then called each one, telling a representative about her travel plans.
“It was tedious,” she says. “I’ve constantly found that agents are not only able to clearly outline all of their options but also very determined to close me as a customer over the phone, so all of a sudden there are new discounts appearing that never appeared on my online insurance quote.”