2021 was a costly year for many motorists due to collisions, weather, and animal related auto insurance claims. While all automobile insurance claims may not be avoidable, most can be by driving defensively, avoiding impaired or distracted driving, and following simple tips. In addition to reducing the risk of a claim, motorists should be aware of the most common claims to avoid paying higher premiums.
“Car crashes are stressful and traumatizing events, and having proper coverage is crucial in providing financial protection and liability coverage,” said Jonathon King, vice president of insurance sales, AAA East Central. “The top three claim categories in our region show that life can be unexpected at times, and you're best served with add-ons like comprehensive coverage.”
Rear-end collisions/Fender Benders
Even a seemingly minor fender bender can cost more than $7,000 in damages and increase the cost of insurance premiums. Rear-end collisions and fender benders accounted for 15% of all auto insurance claims AAA East Central processed in 2021, with many of the crashes resulting from distracted driving. To avoid being involved in a rear-end collision or fender bender, AAA East Central recommends:
- Put down your phone and stay focused on the road. Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your risk for a crash.
- Ask passengers for help or pull over if you need to read or write a text message.
- Activate “Do Not Disturb” settings on your smart phone while driving.
- Take the pledge to end distracted driving by visiting aaa.com/dontdrivedistracted.
Collisions caused by backing up a vehicle, on average, cost more than $1,800 in damages in 2021. This type of crash made up 12% of all auto insurance claims AAA East Central processed, with many occurring in parking lots or driveways. Motorists should be especially cautious when backing out of a driveway or navigating parking lots. Drivers can follow these tips to reduce their risk of being involved in a backup collision.
- Drive slowly and obey all traffic and directional signs.
- Avoid shortcuts such as cutting across parking lanes and rows of parking spots.
- Watch for pedestrians and other vehicles when slowly backing up and do not rely on backup cameras alone.
- Be extra alert for small children, pets, and parents pushing baby strollers in parking lots.
Collisions involving animals or fowl made up more than 8% of AAA East Central’s automobile insurance claims, with an average damage cost of more than $4,100. Deer collisions can be especially destructive to vehicles and can result in severe injuries to motorists and passengers. To prevent a crash or to reduce damage from an animal collision, AAA suggests motorists:
- Pay attention to road signs. Yellow, diamond-shaped signs with an image of a deer indicate areas with high levels of deer activity.
- Keep your eyes on the road. Ditching distractions is one of the easiest ways to make sure you’re ready for when an animal comes out of nowhere.
- Be especially attentive in early morning and evening hours. Many animals, especially deer, are most active from 5-8 a.m. and 5-8 p.m., prime commuting times for many.
- Use high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic. You can spot animals sooner. Sometimes the light reflecting off their eyes will reveal their location.
- Resist the urge to swerve. Instead, stay in your lane with both hands firmly on the wheel. Swerving away from animals can confuse them so they don’t know which way to run. It can also put you in the path of oncoming vehicles or cause you to crash into something.
- If the crash is imminent take your foot off the brake. During hard braking, the front end of your vehicle is pulled downward which can cause the animal to travel up over the hood towards your windshield. Letting off the brake can protect drivers from windshield strikes because the animal is more likely to be pushed to one side of the vehicle or over the top of the vehicle.