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During the throes of an especially harsh winter, it might seem like the white stuff, slush, ice, and the hazards of driving in the dark on the way to and from work are never ending. Snow and ice combined with wind and frigid temperatures take their toll on drivers and their vehicles.

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Any self-respecting Midwesterner knows how to drive in the snow and handle rough temperatures and rain. Protecting yourself and car from other drivers saves lives and saves money on your vehicle insurance too. By avoiding accidents, your premiums stay relatively lower when compared with more accident-prone drivers.

Be aware, while your insurance company is to pay out on claims, they may cancel your coverage or deny claims if you are not living up to your end of your auto insurance policy.

For instance, if you file fraudulent auto insurance claims, there are legal ramifications. Reckless or drunk driving is another way to upset your relationship with your insurance company. Letting people who have a suspended license is another way to break your policy agreement.

Staying Safe

You do have control over two main items that keep you and your car safe, though. They are:

  1. Your driving
  2. The safety of the car you drive

There are a few ways to improve your chances of being safe on the roads. Take a look at Occupational Safety and Health Administration's guidelines to keep yourself safe.

Maintenance-related advice, includes:

  1. Get regular maintenance on your vehicle, such as regular oil changes.
  2. Use snow tires.
  3. Keep tires inflated to the proper pressure for winter, as indicated by the car manufacturer.
  4. When you get gas, check tire pressure, hoses, lights, wipers, oil and other fluid levels.
  5. Check tread on tires often. All wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicles eat through tire tread more quickly when taxed with driving through snow and ice. Take a penny and insert Lincoln's head into the tread. If you cannot see his scalp, then you need to get new tires.
  6. Check the battery before winter, when it's warmer and therefore easier to get the battery out and bring it into an auto parts store.
  7. Ensure you have non-freezing windshield wiper fluid in the car. Carry an extra bottle of it in the car.
  8. Make sure you have enough anti-freeze and brake fluid too.

Carry an emergency kit in your car. It needs to include food, such as nuts and other non-perishable items.

Have a shovel on hand, ice scraper, road salt or kitty litter, and jumper cables. Warm blankets and a change of clothes are also good to have on hand. An emergency kit with reflectors is also a necessity. Keep a first-aid kit among your emergency items too.

While you are checking the battery levels, go ahead and check the air pressure in your spare. The worst is jacking up your car to change your tire, only to realize your spare is flat.

  1. Passengers all need to be buckled up.
  2. Ensure you never put a rear-facing infant seat in a seat with an airbag.
  3. Limit distractions. Put down the phone. Hold off on phone conversations and never text while driving, especially in winter weather.
  4. If you have anti-lock brakes, give them a good stomp to stop and if you have other brakes, pump.
  5. If you skid, do not panic. Instead, steer into the skid.
  6. Leave a few car-lengths ahead of your car, because it takes longer to stop on wet or icy surfaces.

Two more tips are probably the wisest of all. Do not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you are stalled in the cold weather, keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow. If you do run the heat, you will not run the risk of suffocation if you keep the exhaust clear.

Consider taking a safe driving class. Check with your insurance company first. They may offer their own classes in order for you to receive discounts for completing such classes.

It is not unheard of for consumers to save 20 percent on insurance for three years just from completing one day-long class. Some classes are in person while others are held online.

Drive Safe Cars

The next time you are in the market for a car, visit the U.S. Department of Transportation's website concerning safe cars. It is not only for drivers who have the money and desire to buy only the newest cars. The data go back to 1990, but the government started rating cars in 1978.

Over the years, the government has introduced increasingly stringent characteristics to qualify as a five-star safety car. In 1987, for instance, it started evaluating side impact. In general, it rates cars that are likely to have high sales volume.

Such newer features are considered to add to safety, but are not automatically included in the ratings:

  1. Electronic Stability Control
  2. Lane Departure Warning
  3. Forward Collision Warning

Comparing Insurance to Save Money

When you are buying auto insurance coverage, keep in mind the types of damages and injuries you could face in Illinois. There is minimum coverage you must buy and the quoting system has that in place for you.

What you need to consider is whether you have health insurance and how robust it is outside of your auto policy's medical coverage. If you have a good health insurance policy that has a relatively low deductible it may carry the burden of caring for you after an accident.

Though, keep in mind the breadth of injuries you may cause to other drivers in dangerous driving conditions. The state limits are comparatively low. The rule of thumb is to start at $100,000 per person and $300,00 per accident bodily injury liability coverage.

Buy extra underinsured/uninsured coverage, because you have to protect against the damage those drivers might do to you. It covers against hit and runs and people who have no coverage.

Cover your vehicles for collision damage and comprehensive as well, until it financially makes no more sense to do so.

When evaluating policies, make sure that you are comparing offerings with the same values. For instance, if Company 'B' offers 100,000/300,000/100,000 bodily injury for $400 , and Company 'A' is showing $200 for bodily injury, make sure the coverage amounts are equal.

From there, ensure that you are going with a company that has the creditworthiness to pay out claims. Check out A.M. Best for more on this.

When you go to buy insurance for your car, you will be prepared. Maintain your car, be prepared for inclement weather, keep a safe distance, and practice safe driving techniques. Such steps keep your family safe and may save you on insurance costs.

Now that you know more about auto insurance in Elgin, enter your zip code below to receive car insurance rates from multiple companies in the area!

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