Protection comes with peace of mind; know how to keep your car covered

Nearly a quarter of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Nearly three-quarters of America’s roads are located in regions that receive more than 5 inches of average snowfall each year. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), which is just as likely as citizens to keep track of the winter season highs and lows.

“Each year, 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet,” the DOT reported. “Over 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,800 people are injured in vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy or icy pavement annually.”

Additionally, nearly 900 people are killed and nearly 76,000 people are injured in vehicle crashes that happen during snowfall or sleet. MoneyGeek, using U.S. DOT data for 2017-2019, discovered the most dangerous states for winter driving.

The No. 1 most dangerous state was Michigan, with a winter danger score of 100. This was based on total fatalities, the fatality rate for vehicle miles traveled in the state and the reported ranking of states with the safest drivers. Michigan had a reported 165 winter driving fatalities between 2017-2019, a winter driving fatality rate of 0.54 and a safe driving score of 80, with higher scores indicating higher safety.

North Dakota ranked No. 12 for dangerous winter driving, with a winter danger score of 16, a reported 20 winter driving fatalities in the two-year range surveyed, a fatality rate of 0.68 and a safe driving score of 53. Minnesota ranked No. 15, with a winter danger score of 41, a reported 61 winter driving fatalities, a fatality rate of 0.34 and a safe driving score of 98.

Weather conditions aren’t the only factor for winter danger and impact to an automobile.

“I would say more people are concerned right now,” Jamie Beyer, owner and agent with the Beyer Insurance Agency, Wahpeton and Milnor, North Dakota, said just prior to the snow event that began Thursday, Nov. 11. “There’s a large amount of active animals this time of year.”

Beyer gave the example of deer incidents, a common occurrence during hunting season.

“The crops have just come off the fields and so they have more space to move. They’re running, they hear a gunshot and they’re gone,” she said.

Living in a less-rural to urban region does not offer as much protection as might be assumed. Deer can wander into a town and cause vehicle damage just as easily as a pheasant or large bird.

Asked about whether more auto insurance claims are filed in the winter months due to animals or weather incidents, Beyer said it was actually the animals that lead for damages.

“It’s really close. With weather, some of the conditions are year-round. You can have hail during the summer months and you can have a tree fall then, too. You can also remember to add comprehensive coverage to your vehicle’s policy, something to have for if you hit a deer or have a wind and weather incident,” Beyer said.

Some people have had insurance experiences that rival the worst of what they’ve been through with vehicle damage.

“That’s the number one complaint, besides price,” Beyer said. “‘I had a bad experience. My company didn’t step up when I had an accident.’ It’s the most common call an agency will get, from another agency’s unsatisfied customers.”

Protection comes with peace of mind. Beyer insists that local drivers closely examine their insurance policies and make sure to get questions answered.

In addition to knowing your policy, it’s a great idea to know your vehicle and your surroundings. Drivers are encouraged to keep a survival kit including an ice scraper or brush, booster cables, blankets and extra gloves and a flashlight with extra batteries.

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