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Road trips and car insurance

Written by Penny Gusner on July 18, 2014 & Posted in Auto Insurance

You've got your bags packed, the car gassed up, map downloaded and friends to help you drive. You appear ready to leave on your summer road trip, but did you check your car insurance policy? It's important to know the fine print of your car insurance policy before you embark on a road trip -- whether it's a quick jaunt or a 2,000-mile journey.

Before heading out on any road adventure, it's important to review the following checklist:

1. Does your auto insurance policy cover other drivers?

When someone drives your car, it's your car insurance policy that pays if there is a wreck. Before you relinquish driving privileges to either a friend or relative, you need to make sure other drivers are properly covered by your policy.

While typical personal auto insurance policies extend coverage to those to which owners give permission to operate their vehicles, not all policies do. Some cheap car insurance policies don't extend to other non-listed drivers period, and other policies will extend to most drivers but not some stated ones -- such as drivers under the age of 25. If you review your policy and are uncertain if all other drivers are covered, then call your insurer and seek clarification.

2. Are other drivers covered by the same limits as you?

Once you verify that your auto insurance policy covers other drivers, you also should verify that the limits are the same for non-listed drivers. Some auto insurance providers place "step-down" provisions in the policy. These provisions allow the insurer to lower liability limits to state minimums, even if you pay for higher limits, when someone else is driving your vehicle. You don't want to be in a wreck and find out your liability limits are half of what you thought they'd be.

3. Does your policy cover you driving out of state?

Most car insurance policies will extend coverage out of state and even bump up your coverage to the state's minimum limits (if they are higher than what you carry) if you're in an accident while out of state. But again, not all policies are alike. Check that your policy will cover you out of state and with what limits.

4. Do you have a copy of your current insurance card?

Electronic proof of auto insurance is allowed in many states, but not all. It's best to have a physical copy of the card in your car at all times.

Tickets and accidents

If, while sharing driving responsibilities, someone receives a traffic ticket it won't affect the car owner's insurance, unless that driver is listed on that policy as a driver. However, if someone crashes the road trip car, the claims are paid by the car owner's insurer and thus can affect his or her future car insurance rates.

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