Living in northeastern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula, most area residents are aware of the dangers of winter driving.
Roadways are slippery and drivers need to use extra caution.
"The most important thing you can do for this festive season is to keep you and your family safe. There were 12,335 auto accidents in the 2012 winter months," said Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel. "The causes of the accidents were a combination of winter weather and road conditions. Wisconsin's roads are often covered with ice, snow or slush this time of year, and that can cause vehicles to slide."
But there's more.
This is also a good time to review your automobile insurance policy for any limitations in your coverage, Nickel says.
For example, consumers who carry collision auto insurance without comprehensive coverage are not covered in the event of damage to vehicles as a result of hail, wind or flooding.
Additionally, motorists should make sure their coverage is adequate for their insurance needs.
"It's very important to know what your insurance policy covers," said Nickel. "Anyone having trouble understanding their policy or with questions about what is covered should call their agent."
If you are in an automobile accident, Nickel offers the following tips:
- Call the police.
- Obtain information such as the names, addresses, telephone numbers and license numbers of all persons involved in the accident, as well as all witnesses.
- Record the time, date, location, road conditions, make and year of the vehicles involved, insurance information, apparent damage and injuries and your version of what happened.
- Call your insurance agent. Make sure to have your policy number and other relevant information on hand. Also be sure you cooperate fully with the insurance company and ask your agent what documents, forms and data you'll need to file a claim.
- Take notes each time you talk to your insurance company, agent, lawyers, police or anyone else involved in the situation. Write down dates, times, names and what you talked about, as well as any decisions or promises made.
- Save any receipts and bills, including those from a car rental or hotel room if the automobile accident happens outside of your town.
If you are unhappy with your insurance company's decision, you may file a complaint with the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, Nickel said.
To avoid accidents, make sure you plan your travels and check the latest weather reports to avoid any storms.
Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner publications such as "Consumer's Guide to Auto Insurance," "Consumer's Guide to Homeowner's Insurance," "Buying a Home and Your Insurance Needs," and "Settling Property Insurance Claims," can be ordered free from the agency by writing to OCI Publications, P.O. Box 7873, Madison, WI 53707-7873, calling 800-236-8517, or visiting the OCI website at oci.wi.gov.