- CAR INSURANCE: Read your automobile insurance policy and check with your insurance agent about appropriate coverage for your college student. Keep proof of insurance coverage in the vehicle. Make sure you and your new college student understand the types of coverage that you have BEFORE you need it. Is your student covered on your policies? The answer may depend on whether the car is titled to the parents or the student or other variables. Talk to your insurance agent. I recommend that you make sure you have adequate liability coverage, uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage. Also, medical payments coverage can help with medical bills for anyone injured in your child’s vehicle and it is relatively inexpensive to purchase. Remember, if she is involved in an accident, medical bills and other damages can accumulate quickly. Lastly, ask your insurance agent about discounts. Many companies offer good student discounts or other discounts for college students.
- KNOW WHAT TO DO IN THE EVENT OF AN ACCIDENT: If there is an automobile accident, first check to see if anyone is injured. If so, call 911 immediately to get emergency help. If possible, exchange information with the other party, including name, phone number and insurance information. Smartphones make it easy to take pictures and notes at the accident scene. This is important because details are often forgotten even a few days later. However, to protect against identity theft, do not allow anyone to take a copy of your driver’s license. Even if no one is injured, make sure the police are called to get an accident report. This is especially important if the other driver is at fault. The officer may take witness statements as well as document important facts regarding the accident scene and damage to the automobiles. As soon as practicable following the accident, contact your insurance company and report the accident.
- KNOW WHAT TO DO IF A FRIEND WRECKS YOUR CAR: Car insurance generally follows the car and not the driver for most coverages. What this means is that if you lend your car to a friend and your friend wrecks it, it is YOUR insurance that will pay for any liability claims. You must have collision coverage on the car in order for it to pay for any property damage to the car. If your friend causes damages to another person or their property that exceeds the amount of liability insurance coverage on your car, you or your parents may be held liable for expenses that exceed your insurance coverage limits. Also, there is an added risk of you or your parents being held responsible if your friend has a history of driving violations or risky behavior. Some insurance companies only provide “step-down” coverage for drivers that are not named insureds on the policy. This means that a friend operating your vehicle may not have as much insurance coverage as you would if you wrecked the same car. Again, it is wise to check with your insurance agent BEFORE an accident occurs.
- CAR MAINTENANCE: Keep the car in good repair. Before your student heads out, make sure the vehicle is up to date on oil changes and other required maintenance so as to avoid breaking down on the road or in a new city. Make sure the tires are adequate for the weather and type of driving they will be doing. Having a back up plan such as Onstar or AAA, which includes roadside assistance, also helps. As a parent, it provides some often needed peace of mind. Although you may have been in charge of regular maintenance while both the child and car were at home, your young adult may now be in the best position to know if there is a possible problem with the car. Be sure to discuss as a family, how to handle those maintenance issues.
The attorneys at Tatlow, Gump, Faiella and Wheelan, LLC, have years of experience regarding automobile accidents, serious injury, wrongful deaths, and disputes involving insurance coverages. Please call us for a free consultation if you or someone you love needs legal advice regarding these matters.