Insurance Insights

5 tips for a safe road trip
Brian McGrail

If you’ll be one of the millions of Americans planning on hitting the road this summer for that long-awaited vacation, I want to be sure you, and your vehicle, are ready to go from an insurance perspective.

When I was growing up in North Carolina, summertime always meant piling into the family car for a road trip. I remember one time we planned to visit Six Flags Over Georgia in Atlanta, and like the movie, National Lampoon’s Vacation, the park was closed when we got there.

No matter how far you plan on traveling, you’ll be spending more time on the road, sharing it with different types of vehicles, experiencing different driving conditions than what you may be used to, and, perhaps, driving in unfamiliar territory. Here are a few tips to help keep you safe as you prepare for your trip.

  1. Before you go. Get your vehicle ready to hit the road by checking your tires, wiper blades, brakes, lights, fluids, filters, hoses, battery/charging system, steering/suspension, etc. You can even make an appointment at a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility to have your vehicle inspected. And don’t forget to wash your car. Dirty windows can decrease your visibility, especially when sunlight reflects off the dirt.
  2. Get your home in order. An empty home is a prime target for potential thieves. If your trip will be longer than a couple of days, make your home looks inhabited by using timers to turn lights on and off. Temporarily stop newspaper deliveries and arrange to have mail picked up or held by the post office. Avoid discussing vacation plans in public places, and don’t share your vacation pics on social media until you’re back home.
  3. Update your insurance. This is a great time to review your policy to be sure your liability, comprehensive, collision, glass, and rental reimbursement coverages are enough to suit your needs—this includes reviewing your deductibles.
  4. Minimize distractions. Anything that takes a driver’s attention away from driving can be dangerous. Actively scan the road for hazards and use your mirrors. If you’re traveling with another driver, divide the driving responsibilities and let the co-pilot handle the navigation. If children or pets need your attention, pull off the road safely to care for them.
  5. To rent or not to rent. If you don’t want to put the miles on your own car, especially if you lease your vehicle, consider renting one that includes unlimited mileage. Review your auto policy to see if you’re covered while in a rental car. Even if so, you may consider purchasing the rental company’s insurance. If you had an accident in a rental car and you were only covered by your own insurance, would you want to file a claim with your insurance company, which could affect your rates, or is it worth spending a few extra dollars per day to have the rental company file the claim?

Brian McGrail is the vice president of insurance for AAA Colorado.