5 Things to Know About Car Insurance Policies Before Going on a Road Trip

Even if you know the important details of your car insurance policy, the rules of the game change during road trips. Here are five important things to know about insurance policies before you start your adventure.

#1: Car insurance policies have coverage areas

In just the same way that taking a cell phone to a new area can sometimes leave you in a “dead zone” for a signal, driving out of the state can sometimes take you to a dead zone for coverage. In these cases, you’re essentially driving without a policy and may be held responsible for both damages and legal penalties. Check with you car insurance company regarding your coverage area and the rules on driving into new areas.

Skyline of Oklahoma City, Viewed from Highway
© Nicholas A. Tonelli

#2: Not everyone can drive your car

Some policies allow any “approved person” to take the wheel, but most insurance companies avoid this because they base their price on a risk assessment of specific drivers. You can sometimes get a car insurance quote to have a second driver covered temporarily. Given the monotony of being behind the wheel, it’s definitely worth looking into.

#3: Most insurance companies can insure rentals

While any car rental company will try to sell you their own policy (which ranges from roughly $300 to $1200 each month), you can use any standard insurance company to cover the rented vehicle. This tends to be far cheaper than using the rental company’s policy.

#4: Not every state has the same insurance laws

Each state has its own laws regarding insurance requirements. While the standard is to require liability insurance on any vehicle that hits the asphalt, some states have even more strict requirements. Call the state DMV for each state you’ll be visiting before making your journey.

#5: Not all policies cover attached or stored items

When you have a trailer latched to the back of your car, kayaks on top, or some high-tech entertainment to keep the back-seat passengers from getting bored, the appropriate source for coverage becomes ambiguous. While some car insurance policies cover attached or stored property, home owner’s or renter’s insurance will often do the trick at a lower price.

By knowing these five gray zones commonly found in insurance policies, you can help prevent some chaos during your journey. That way you can focus on the fun types of “unexpected” found on the road ahead of you.

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