Winter weather and car insurance claims

Combine icy, snowy roads with motorists who aren't used to these conditions and the risk of car crashes increases. Winter is a good time to review your insurance. Do you know what your policy covers? Here are some typical questions motorists ask this time of year.

If you have collision coverage, your insurance will cover damage to your vehicle after you pay the deductible. If you don't have collision coverage, damage to your vehicle won't be covered. However, if you are determined to be responsible, your required liability insurance will cover property damage and/or injuries to the other vehicle and its occupants up to the limits of your policy.

Comprehensive insurance covers you for physical damage other than collision. This includes losses from fire, theft, hail, falling objects, vandalism, animal collisions, and floods. After you pay the deductible, comprehensive insurance will reimburse you if rock chips shatter your windshield, for example. Collision is defined as colliding with another object or overturning. Neither type of insurance is required in Oregon.

You may be responsible any time your vehicle is out of control. Key issues will be whether your actions were reasonable and prudent.

Oregon law requires your insurance policy to provide a minimum of $15,000 personal injury protection coverage to take care of reasonable, accident-related medical expenses as well as some other costs such as wage losses or funeral expenses. This coverage is available regardless of who is at fault in a crash.

Your auto insurance does not automatically cover the cost of a rental car. However, you can purchase rental reimbursement coverage; it is relatively inexpensive. If you have this coverage at the time of an accident, it will pay for a vehicle while yours is being repaired.

Auto insurance coverage follows the vehicle, so your car will generally be covered while your relative is driving, the same as if you were driving. For example, if your family member slides off an icy road and you don't have collision coverage, there would not be coverage for any damage to the car itself, no matter who was driving. Keep in mind that your premiums might increase due to the accident.

The existing policy on the borrowed vehicle would provide primary coverage. If no coverage exists, your auto insurance policy might provide coverage. Talk with your insurance agent or company to find out if your auto coverage will extend to a friend or family member's car you plan on operating.

Your automobile coverage will not be affected if another driver is simply ticketed for a driving violation. However, if the person has an accident while intoxicated, the company might nonrenew your policy or charge a higher premium.

Comprehensive insurance covers this type of damage and she apparently does not have this type of insurance. While everyone must carry liability insurance to pay for damage they cause to others, Oregon law doesn't require people to buy insurance to protect their own property.

Only if they were negligent. You would have to prove that there was something wrong with the tree and that the neighbor knew about the problem and failed to act.

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