holiday road tripThe holiday season might also be called travel season, at least considering past trends of the busiest travel days of the year. As such, there’s a chance that you and your family might be planning to take some sort of holiday road trip this season. Whether you’re driving a few miles to a family’s house or across the country, you need to make sure that you’re prepared. Unlike travel in the summer months, there are a unique set of concerns you need to be aware of in the winter. In addition to completing your auto insurance road trip checklist, here are the hazards you, your vehicle and your insurance policy need to be able to handle.

Make sure you and your car can weather the elements

It goes without saying that driving in the winter months can be more hazardous, as you’ll likely be contending with an assortment of weather conditions – rain, sleet, hail, snow – and all of them can alter visibility and road conditions fairly quickly. How can you be prepared? Don’t only check what your weather will be like at your destination; you’ll also need to know the weather conditions along your route. While you can use your phone to get this information, there’s no guarantee that you’ll maintain the same level of cell phone coverage throughout your trip. Luckily, there are weather forecasting websites that will let you see weather conditions and warnings ahead of time. You can print this information out so that you can know what’s ahead, even if your phone’s not working. Also, consider tuning into a handful of the primary news radio stations in the areas you’ll be traveling, which can also provide updates in the event the weather shifts from what was predicted.

Aside from being prepared for your trip, you’ll need to make sure your car is, too. Something else you should do before any road trip (but especially in the winter months) is to make sure your car has had its tune-up. Go to your mechanic or to your dealership to make sure your vehicle is physically prepared for the weather that lies ahead of you.

Finally, don’t hesitate to take a look at your current auto insurance coverage. If you’re worried about winter weather conditions and hazards, you can just adjust your policy as necessary. Remember that comprehensive coverage might be most useful for weather-related damages that are out of your control.

Watch out for deer!

Winter months aren’t just more hectic for riders because of the holiday rush and the weather, it’s also peak mating season for deer. While deer collisions aren’t extremely common, winter does mean your chances of a collision with one of these large animals is likely to go up. Since deer can seemingly come out of nowhere, you should be prepared to slow down in woody or mountainous areas. Generally, areas with deer populations should have deer crossing warnings, but know that you may also cross paths with a deer when no signs are present. It’s best to drive slower in any location with a warning sign, especially at night and before dawn when deer are most active. If you find yourself face-to-face with a deer, remember not to swerve, as swerving to avoid a collision could endanger other vehicles on the road or throw your car off center, causing a tragedy sadder than the death of Bambi. That’s why, as harsh as it sounds, it’s best to just continue trying to break while moving straight toward the deer.

If you do end up colliding with a deer, keep in mind that usually only a comprehensive insurance policy will cover the collision. If you’re unsure about your coverage, make sure to take a look at your policy before your trip and ask your insurer about what you’re protected from.

Beware of Grinches who’ll steal your gifts (and your car)

While crime tends to be higher in the summer, that doesn’t mean that you can afford to disregard safety in the winter. When leaving your car unattended, especially during the height of gift-giving season in December, make sure to hide all of your belongings from view and park your vehicle in a well-lit place. Additionally, keep in mind that if your vehicle does take damage from vandalism, or if it’s stolen, comprehensive coverage might compensate you for certain losses, including some of the personal effects that might have been in your car. Other policies don’t cover these kinds of losses, but your homeowner’s insurance might cover you for some of your lost items if your car is stolen or broken into.

For more road trip and auto insurance advice, keep reading our auto insurance blog. And if you need to adjust your policy, take a look at the auto insurance options we review.