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How Your Insurance May Play a Role in Black Friday Mishaps

This post is part of a series of insurance blogs on Safeco.com showcasing the expertise of independent insurance agentsand aimed at helping you understand insurance coverage and important issues.

Scoring a bargain on Black Friday feels great. Not so great? Waiting in long lines. Getting into an altercation with another shopper. Fighting for a parking spot.

It may all be enough to convince you to stay home on America’s favorite shopping day. However, if you do decide to head out into the fray, watch out for these potential causes of Black Friday trouble to help keep you, your vehicle, and your gifts secure.

Driving Drowsy: At-Fault Accidents
One of the most common problems with driving on Black Friday is it’s so darn early. At 3 a.m., shoppers might not be alert enough to operate a vehicle safely, and you don’t risk just getting into an accident. You risk your car insurance rates going up afterward, as well, especially if you are found at fault for the accident. Now there’s a sleeper hit you don’t want!

Even worse, someone could be seriously hurt. In 2013, a South Carolina teen fell asleep at the wheel coming home from a Black Friday shopping trip. He died, and his four passengers were hospitalized.

Road Rage: Potentially No Coverage for Intentional Acts
Everybody wants the best spot in the parking lot, and, on Black Friday, emotions run high. It’s unfortunately not hard to imagine another shopper hitting the gas instead of the brakes and ramming into the side of your car as you pull into a spot she wanted. Talk about a bad case of road rage. But, wait, it gets worse. Since she intentionally rammed your car, the incident may not receive any coverage under her auto insurance. Insurance, after all, is for accidents, not intentional acts.

If her car insurance will not cover the damage to your car, you’ll have to seek coverage under your own policy. You would need collision coverage on your auto policy in order to do so. Collision covers damage to your own vehicle in many instances when you are not afforded coverage under someone else’s policy. You may also choose to sue for damages.

Parking Lot Accidents: Don’t Go It Alone
Of course, actual accidents happen in parking lots, too. If you’re involved in a fender bender, be sure to involve your insurance carrier too. It may seem minor enough to handle on your own, but remember that injuries can be serious, even at low speeds, and may not show up for days. Plus, what if the other person changes his mind about how much of a settlement he expects from you or about how much he agrees to pay to you? All of a sudden, you do want your carrier involved. However, your prior interactions with the other party, or your delay in reporting the accident, may have compromised your ability to obtain coverage under your policy.

You may not even know who hit your vehicle. In the case of a hit and run, alert both your insurance carrier and the police. A hit and run is a crime, and a police report may be helpful in the claims adjustment process.

No matter the type of accident, ask around for witnesses. Document everything you can. Jot down the location, nature of damage, and approximate time of the accident. Use your phone to photograph the accident scene and the damage to your car.

Stolen Gifts: Theft Paired With Vehicle Damage
Imagine you get up hours before dawn, spend the whole morning shopping for the perfect gifts, and then find that you were robbed. Some Grinch has stolen Christmas right out of your back window!

Gifts are considered personal property, and a renters, condo, or homeowners policy covers the cost of replacing personal property in many instances. If your vehicle was damaged in the process, such as a broken window, you’ll have to rely on the “other than collision” (commonly known as “comprehensive”) coverage on your auto insurance policy for your vehicle damage. This coverage typically isn’t required by state law so be sure to check that you have it, as well as collision and other desired coverage, before an incident occurs.
Of course, these are just a handful of Black Friday scenarios. It’s a jungle out there in the malls, so stay alert and stay safe. And, remember: a little bit of patience goes a long way on Black Friday – or any day.
Posted 11:06 AM

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