How to prepare for a road trip

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Road trips have been an iconic piece of American culture since the Ford Model T hit the road in the early 1900s. From the splendor of the Grand Canyon to the unspoiled mountains of Vermont, the United States offers possibilities for road trips. seemingly endless car.

After the stress of the pandemic, Americans could hit the road in significant numbers. An early 2021 survey Motel 6 revealed the following details:

  • Almost 56% of those polled said they were more likely to take a car trip in 2021 than in previous years.
  • About 69% of those polled had at least one trip planned for 2021.
  • Around 76% of those surveyed could not travel as much as they had hoped in 2020.

If you’re planning your own road trip, you’ll want to learn about best practices on the road and the best auto insurance to protect your vehicle as you explore. In this article, we’ll tell you how to protect your car so you can get the most out of your trip.

In this article:

Make sure you're covered for extended driving while on a road trip

How does auto insurance work for road trips?

Even with your bags packed, you’re not ready to go if you haven’t thought about car insurance. While there is no specific policy for road trips, it’s a good idea to make sure you have the best auto insurance coverage in place for extended driving. Below, we’ll take a look at the types of auto insurance that are particularly relevant for road trips.

Before you begin your expedition, review your current auto insurance policy to determine the amount of your liability insurance coverage. If you only purchase your state’s minimum liability insurance, you could be underinsured. Accidents can be expensive, and liability coverage only covers damage to others. Consider the following Data from the National Security Council (NSF) on the average economic costs of accidents in the United States:

Average economic cost of automobile accidents

Minimum auto liability insurance can quickly run out if you are responsible for a major car accident. When going on a road trip, it is wise to take at least $ 100,000 per person and $ 300,000 per accident for bodily injury, although higher limits can be even more helpful.

Uninsured Motorist coverage will cover your medical expenses and lost wages if you are injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. It is often linked to underinsured motorist coverage, which covers damage suffered by a driver who does not have an adequate insurance policy.

The Insurance Research Council found that 12.6 percent of motorists were uninsured in 2019, around one in eight drivers. If your trip is disrupted by an accident caused by an uninsured driver and you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, you will be responsible for covering your expenses.

The average American driver could experience several car crashes in their lifetime. If your car is damaged by an accident in the middle of your road trip, collision coverage can protect you from expensive repair and replacement costs.

According to State Farm, the average claim for hail damage was over $ 4,300 in 2020. If you are a victim of bad weather during your road trip, comprehensive car insurance will protect your wallet by covering damage. The same goes for issues caused by theft, vandalism, and many other situations that could cause physical damage to your vehicle.

Having a flat tire in an unfamiliar location or locking your keys in your car away from home can be stressful. Adding a roadside assistance plan to your existing auto insurance policy can go a long way in providing peace of mind during your road trip.

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If you drive your vehicle

If you are traveling with your own car on a long-distance trip, there are two key factors to consider when it comes to your auto insurance coverage. Details can be found below:

If you have an auto insurance policy, other people can drive your vehicle as long as they are registered, under the influence, and explicitly excluded from your policy. Since auto insurance is designed to protect the vehicle, your auto coverage remains in place even if your friend gets behind the wheel.

Each state maintains different minimum requirements for auto insurance. Let’s say your home state only charges $ 15,000 for personal injury coverage, but your at-fault accident occurs in a state that charges at least $ 50,000.

While you may appear to be underinsured, your insurer won’t penalize you for carrying the lower coverage limits legally set by the state you live in. In most cases, your insurer should increase policy limits if you are involved in a state crash exit.

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If you are renting a car

If you are driving in a rental vehicle, you will need rental car insurance. Fortunately, there are a variety of options that can cover your adventure.

Your personal auto insurance policy may offer you protection while traveling in a rental car, but it is not guaranteed. Check your policy to see if it covers rental cars. Regardless, most car rental companies offer coverage options:

  • Collision Waiver (CDW)
  • Exemption from damages (LDW)
  • Complementary Liability Insurance (SLI)
  • Personal accident insurance
  • Personal effects coverage

Collision insurance does away with collision insurance by covering damage to a rental car caused by an accident. Loss and damage insurance is the equivalent of comprehensive coverage, helping against theft, vandalism or environmental damage. CDWs and LDWs are generally expensive, but they offer extensive protection.

Supplemental liability insurance is the equivalent of automobile liability insurance, so many drivers’ policies will transfer coverage to car rentals. If your policy doesn’t, or if you don’t have personal auto insurance, opt for SLI coverage, as liability insurance is required by law.

Personal accident insurance covers medical and death benefits after a rental car accident, while personal effects coverage protects property stolen from a rental vehicle. These two types of insurance are purchased less often and are rarely, if ever, needed.

There are a few routes you can take to secure a rental car that avoid the options described above. We’ll go through the details below.

Use personal auto insurance coverage. In many cases, your full coverage auto insurance policy will extend to damage caused by a collision while you are driving a short-term rental car. If you have collision coverage under your existing policy, you may be able to decline to pay a CDW with the car rental company.

Take advantage of the benefits of the credit card. Many large credit card companies offer built-in collision coverage for rental cars. If you use their card to secure the rental, the cardholder can cover the CDW at no additional cost. Before relying on this coverage, make sure that your credit card actually provides this benefit.

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If you leave the country

What special considerations should you keep in mind for road trips that cross international borders? Much depends on whether you are going to Canada or Mexico.

If you are traveling to Canada: Most US auto policies will cover drivers entering Canada. Keep in mind that you may need to provide proof of insurance to border officials.

If you are traveling to Mexico: Your US auto insurance will no longer be valid once you cross the Mexican border. Driving without insurance in Mexico can result in hefty fines and even jail time, so purchase Mexican auto insurance when you visit the country. The process of buying Mexican auto insurance tends to be relatively straightforward, and the major providers can easily help you purchase the required coverage.

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Tips for preventing accidents during road trips

Traffic accidents represent over 36,000 deaths in the United States in 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The last thing you want to deal with on vacation is a car accident. Here are some tips for avoiding accidents on your next road trip.

Do not write and do not drive. NHTSA reported that more than 3,100 people were killed as a result of traffic accidents involving distracted drivers in 2019, so put your phone away while driving to keep everyone safe on your road trip.

Always stay alert while driving. Driver fatigue contributed to around 700 dead in 2019, according to NHTSA. Always be well rested before setting off and do not drive if you are impaired or overly tired.

Inspect your vehicle before and after your trip. It’s important to perform thorough maintenance inspections before, after, and even during your road trip. Paying close attention to the condition of your car will help you identify any mechanical issues that might arise while you are traveling.

Follow the regular maintenance of the vehicle. Keeping up with regular vehicle maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotations, can reduce the risk of unexpected breakdowns and mechanical breakdowns while you’re on the road.

Insurance for road trips - infographic


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