It's summertime, and the driving is easy. Or at least it will be if you have the proper auto insurance. Before you take to the open road, check your insurance policy or call your insurer to make sure you have the coverage you need.
Here are some common summer driving hazards you might encounter, and the types of car insurance you should have for each emergency.
1. You're stuck in the sand at the beach and need a tow.
You might be using your kid's bucket and shovel to dig your car out of the sand, or else be prepared to pay for a tow, unless you have optional roadside assistance coverage. If you do, your insurer will dispatch a wrecker to tow your car onto solid ground. Many auto insurance companies offer roadside assistance, or you can purchase it through a group such as AAA.
2. Your canoe flies off the roof of your car and hits another vehicle.
All states but New Hampshire require you to carry liability insurance on your vehicle. If you don't, you'll be up a creek without a paddle. Penny Gusner, Insure.com's consumer analyst, says your liability insurance should kick in to cover the damage to the other vehicle because the canoe was originally attached to your car.
3. You get in a wreck while you're towing your boat.
You could be sunk if you haven't purchased insurance for your boat. Most car insurance policies will provide liability coverage for the trailer, but not comprehensive and collision coverage, Gusner says. Instead, you'll need to purchase boat insurance. Some boat policies also include roadside assistance, which may cover both your trailer and the car you use to tow your trailer and boat.
4. Your travel trailer is damaged in an accident.
Your auto's liability insurance is likely to cover your home away from home. But you'll most likely need to buy collision insurance to cover you if you're in a wreck. If your trailer is damaged in a storm, that's when comprehensive coverage would kick in. You may also want to look at total loss replacement coverage, which protects you from depreciation if you own a new travel trailer.
5. You're hit by a car while riding your bike.
If you're struck by a vehicle while riding your bike, you'll be covered for your injuries if you have auto insurance medical payments coverage. If you live in a state that requires you to carry no-fault auto insurance, you'll typically have personal injury protection, which will cover your medical costs. Uninsured motorist bodily injury also may help cover the cost of your treatment. You also can find some companies that sell bicycle insurance. Not only will those policies cover your bike for damages, it could help pay for your medical care.
6. Your car is hit by kids playing ball in their yard.
The kids' parents could pony up the cash to cover the damage to your vehicle, or the liability portion of their homeowners insurance could cover the cost. Otherwise, you can turn to your auto's comprehensive coverage, which covers damage that is not sustained in a collision. Some auto owners drop comprehensive insurance coverage on older vehicles, so if you've done that, you could be paying for the repairs out of your own pocket.
7. Your windshield shatters after a mower kicks up a rock.
This is another peril covered under the comprehensive part of your insurance policy. You should file a "glass only" insurance claim as soon as the damage is done. You'll typically have to pay a deductible to cover the replacement of your windshield. But if you live in a state such as Florida, auto insurance companies don't charge deductibles for broken windshields and windows.
8. Your windshield gets chipped when a rock flies up from the dirt road leading to the campground.
A chipped windshield also is covered under the comprehensive part of your insurance. But if it's just a chip, rather than a major break, you also can get a break. If you have comprehensive coverage and your windshield can be repaired rather than replaced, in many cases you won't have to pay a deductible for the repair.
9. You're on a road trip and your tire blows, damaging your car.
This is another case where it pays to carry comprehensive coverage. That's the type of insurance you need to cover the damage done to your vehicle by a blown tire, or else you'll be paying the costs on your own. If your car is still drivable and you've got optional roadside assistance coverage, your insurer will dispatch someone to put the spare on your car. Otherwise they'll tow your car to a location where it can be repaired.
10. You're on a road trip and you run out of gas or your car breaks down.
Roadside assistance coverage will get you out of the bind. With many policies you can get gas delivered to your car, have your engine jump-started or have your car towed to a repair shop at no extra charge. Premium programs offer trip interruption coverage, paying for your hotels, alternate transportation and meals if your breakdown leaves you stranded far from home.