Did you know if Barbie was a real person, she would have to walk on all fours due to her measurements?
Did you know Marilyn Monroe was a size 14?
Did you know that 25 left handed people die each year on average from using products designed for right handed people?
You may have already heard those extremely random (and essentially useless) bits of information, and unknown, trivial facts about insurance may not be as interesting or as humorous as those, but there are some important, random, yet little known facts about auto insurance. A few are of the largest misconceptions about auto insurance, so they could also potentially save you a lot of money in the long run — as well as time, which as we all know, is money too.
#1: A rear-end accident is not always the fault of the driver who is behind the rear-ended car.
Many believe say that’s always the case, no questions asked, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. Consider this scenario: Someone is parked or stopped, and the vehicle ahead of them backs up into them or rolls backwards into the car behind them. That would not be considered an at-fault accident. Of course, it would be helpful if there are witnesses are willing to testify that you were completely stopped, parked, and/or not moving. It’s also why it’s a wise idea for everyone to install dash-cams like the ones police have, a trend that is catching on quickly – not to mention that it’s much safer than trying to scramble for your cell phone to record such an incident. If you want proof of how common and helpful dash cams can be to prove you’re not at-fault or were possibly a victim of intended insurance fraud, just do a quick Youtube search and you’ll find a wealth of startling videos, like this compilation.
#2: Bystander witnesses are the best source for determining who is at-fault in an accident, so for your sake, if you have an accident, hopefully someone is nearby, witnessing the whole thing. Everyone loves watching a train wreck, right?
As the joke goes, there are three sides to every story. There is the first party’s version, the second party’s version, and then the truth.
Not that you would intentionally provide false information, but you have one perspective. While it may be your “100% no-doubt-about-it truth,” it might be a little different from someone else’s point of view. Accidents happen quickly, and sometimes those involved don’t have the clearest memory of what precisely happened. An innocent, neutral bystander is likely see the situation for what it was though.
#3: If you’re in an accident and it’s the other driver’s fault, you need to call their insurer to find out how much coverage you have for a rental car, not your insurance company.
Not much more needs to be said here, but hopefully if you’re not at-fault, the other party carries insurance, so their coverage should pay for a rental car if your vehicle is temporarily inoperable or totaled. Sometimes your insurer will cover the rental car for you and then be reimbursed by the at-fault party’s insurance company, but the simpler way to obtain temporary transportation is to call the other party’s insurer.
And while we’re on the topic of rental vehicles…
#4: Your insurer doesn’t have to cover comparable rental vehicle costs if they exceed rental car limit amounts.
If your car is totaled, your insurance company does not necessarily have to cover the cost of a rental vehicle that’s comparable to your car unless you have purchased additional coverage and/or higher rental vehicle coverage limits. So if you drive a Lamborghini that’s damaged or totaled in an accident, you’d likely have to settle for a four door, economy size sedan until rental car coverage limits are reached, damages are repaired, or until you buy a new car.
Don’t want to drive that four-door sedan when your Lamborghini is totaled? You can rent any vehicle you want to, but if your rental exceeds the allowable amount of coverage as stated on your policy (or an at-fault party’s limits), you will have to pay the difference.
For example, most policies have $25 or $30 per day maximum limits. Rarely can you rent a car for less than $40 or $50 daily, meaning if your rental car is $50 a day and your coverage allows for $30 a day, you’d have to fork over that extra $20 difference for each day. If an accident wasn’t your fault and you need a rental, the other insurer may pay for it, but likely through reimbursement.
When choosing rental car coverage limits, try a few different amounts when getting quotes because often it’s only $1-$5 more monthly to increase daily maximum limits from $30 to $50.
#5: Typically your insurance policy will cover you all over the U.S., U.S. possessions (Puerto Rico), and often Canada.
Sometimes your insurer might require you to add an endorsement to go to Canada, but usually it’s included.
However, Mexico usually isn’t included. Some companies allow coverage to extend within so many miles of the border, but often, if you plan on travelling by car to Mexico, you’ll need an endorsement added to your policy.
#6: Your deductible may not be the only thing you pay if you have a claim and need repairs.
If damage includes new tires or original tires that are older or not brand new, the insurance company can charge you the difference between the value of your old tires and the cost of the new tires.
#7: You may have to pay more than one deductible.
If you’re in the unfortunate circumstance where you accidentally hit another one of your own vehicles, you’ll have to pay a deductible for each vehicle.
Similarly, if you’re anything like Jerry in the State Farm commercials that ‘combined his home and auto,’ you’d be paying deductibles for both your home and car. Although unlikely, imagine accidentally hitting the gas instead of the brake and running over your motorcycle, hitting your second vehicle, and ramming your garage door all in one swift move. In that scenario, you would have to pay your car insurance deductible, your motorcycle deductible, your second vehicle deductible, and your homeowner’s insurance deductible. No breaks to be found there.
Hopefully you’ll never need to recall any of those facts, and they’ll be random facts tucked away in your brain with other useless information like Barbie’s “human measurements.” But in the event you do need to use them, you’ll be a step ahead of your insurance company and other drivers if you’re involved in an accident. For now, file them under the ‘Did You Know?’ section in your brain, and remember — knowledge is power — even if that knowledge is about Barbie dolls.
Follow Desiree Baughman on Twitter @DesireeBaughman