Winter weather in Kansas appeared earlier than usual this year with the Thanksgiving weekend blizzard throughout much of the state. People were caught on the roads, halted at shelters and generally snowed in for a couple of days.
Even though we are behind in the pitch count, so to speak, regarding our Kansas weather preparations, we at the Kansas Insurance Department have some timely considerations that will help you prepare for your next winter storm event. We’ve broken them down into three areas: vehicle insurance, vehicle maintenance and family protection.
First, here are our five important vehicle insurance tips:
• Confirm your insurance is active and premiums are paid. Have a current copy of your insurance card in your vehicle or with you.
• Select liability limits that are right for your financial circumstances. If you find yourself at-fault in an accident and have insufficient liability coverages, your personal assets are at risk for paying the remaining financial obligation.
• If you rent a vehicle for a trip, check with your insurance agent to see if your policy includes coverage. Also, make sure you don’t duplicate benefits from your own policy if you decide to get rental insurance. A quick call to your agent should help determine that.
• Verify that your homeowners or renters insurance covers the theft of personal items from your vehicle, especially if you are planning to haul more expensive items. Many people believe that vehicle insurance covers replacement of stolen items from their vehicles, but that usually is not the case.
• Know if your policy includes roadside assistance, such as towing, fuel delivery, lockout service and jump-starts.
Second, we have some useful tips for trip preparation:
• Have a fully-charged cell phone — and pack your vehicle phone-charging units for your car and standard electrical outlets.
• Make sure you have an emergency kit for long trips. Include a first-aid kit, batteries, flashlights, drinking water, snacks, jumper cables, ice scrapers, tissues and towels, a tow rope, extra clothing and blankets.
• Check your battery and your tires.
• Keep your gas tank at least half-full all the time.
• Check or replace your wipers. Nothing can be as dangerous — or as aggravating — as having faulty wipers during bad weather.
• Make sure your prescriptions are adequate.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, family insurance needs should be a part of your winter preparations as well. Our top considerations for family discussions about insurance matters include the following:
• Make sure, for those young and old, that important insurance and legal papers are in a secure place that more than one person knows about.
• Assess personal insurance needs for yourself and your family. Needs for an older adult, for example, could be much different from those of a child or grandchild.
• Make sure you know what health insurance coverage you and your family have. What are your deductibles and co-pays? What preventive services are now covered? What providers are in your coverage network? Will you be covered away from home?
• Plan your expenses for insurance premiums. Chart your premiums and their due dates on a 2019 calendar.
• In this season of giving, be sure you know the recipients of your financial gifts. Unfortunately, scams abound during this time of year, and the spirit of the season is often the reason that people get taken.
Although we can’t always predict exact winter weather patterns, we can be prepared for any driving and winter event with a little planning. Here’s hoping the holidays and winter season will find you comfortable with your insurance knowledge and preparations.
Ken Selzer is the Kansas Insurance Commissioner.