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Many drivers don’t think about their insurance coverage until after they have an accident and call their insurance company to file a claim to help pay for car repairs, a rental car and other expenses.

Unfortunately, many insured drivers are surprised to find out that their auto insurance does not automatically cover the cost of a replacement rental car after an accident. Since the average car is in the repair shop for two weeks after an accident, it can cost as much as $500 to rent a replacement car. But, some insured drivers pay little or nothing to rent a car because of an inexpensive but often overlooked option known as rental reimbursement.

Rental reimbursement coverage is available for only $1 or $2 a month with almost every auto insurance policy, but it is bypassed frequently by those who believe they will not have a car accident or those shopping only for the lowest cost premium. The cost of a rental replacement car adds up fast, so even if you don’t have an accident for eight or nine years, the coverage pays for itself when you need it most.

Sometimes working out the details of a claim with the auto insurance company can take time. Even if the accident is the other driver’s fault, you may have to wait several days or longer to get the other insurance company to agree to pay for a rental car. With your own coverage, there is no waiting.

A great resource for your information questions can be found here: http://www.iii.org/insurance-topics/auto-insurance or you can always contact me at (352)512-0444 or www.ocalaaccidentlaw.com  if you’ve been injured in an accident and just need some answers.

Be safe out there friends!

YOUR #ocalaaccidentattorney,

Marianne Howanitz

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So you’re ready to “head out on the highway, looking for adventure” (showing my age there!) this summer?  Independent women are more and more finding themselves traveling our country’s roads alone for pleasure.  While it is wildly thrilling to be the only one in the car, singing along to your personal playlist, and stopping only when you want, where you want, I want to make sure you stay safe out there my friend!  Below are my Top 10 Safety Tips for Single Women on Road Trips.

  1. Take your car to the auto shop first—Before starting out on any road trip, always take your car in for service. Make sure your car is “road ready,” and that your oil is changed, tires are in good shape, antifreeze and the heater all working and there is not a lot of junk in your trunk (stop snickering). Start out fresh and clean!
  2. Always let someone know where you are—Though you may enjoy the freedom of feeling “lost” on the highway, it’s always best to check in with a family member or friend so someone always knows where to find you.  Texting is a quick and easy way to share your whereabouts, just not while you are driving. Sending a selfie of you in front of significant landmark signs can be fun, too.
  3. Notify credit card companies—Some credit card companies will block your card if they see “suspicious” activity like continuous gas charges. Inform companies that you will be traveling so they do not cut off your credit and leave you stranded without easy access to money. This happened to me!
  4. Keep cell phone charged—Before you start out on the road each day, charge your cell phone so it is ready for use in case of emergencies. You can also buy a portable battery to extend the phone’s life in case there is not a charger handy or use a car charger.
  5. Listen to weather reports—Be aware of the weather conditions where you are traveling and prepare accordingly. Many times, I have had to pull off to the side of a road and wait for a storm to pass. Be safe and be prepared.
  6. Always have maps and know how to read them—GPS systems may not always be reliable; carry current road atlases with you and know how to read them as a backup resource. Trace out alternative routes. Always have a Plan B route figured out in case your original highway choices are closed or backed up with traffic.
  7. Stop at places that are busy and well-lit—Look for locations that have other people around. Do not stop at deserted, dark places. It’s always a good idea to look like you know where you are and where you are going. If you have to ask for directions, casually ask employees at the establishment instead of random strangers. Be careful of walking and using your phone, these unaware moments can sometimes present opportunities for crime.
  8. Don’t stop for someone stranded on the side of the road—Though you may feel compelled to assist someone in trouble, if you’re alone, don’t stop unless you are sure it’s safe. It’s always a good idea to get to a safe place first and then call for help for the stranded driver, dialing 911 is helping out enough.
  9. Should your car break down, keep windows rolled up and do not open the door to strangers who stop to “assist” you. Make sure you have a current roadside assistance plan and contact them to come out to help you. Ask to see their ID for the service before getting out of the car when they arrive.
  10. And last, but certainly not least, do not pick up strangers—Do not offer rides or agree to share a room with anyone you don’t know. Though you may think the person you are helping is harmless, you can never fully know someone’s true intentions after just a few minutes of conversation. It’s hard to get rid of someone later, so don’t get into this situation by picking them up in the first place.

Hope this was helpful.  Now, go hit the road and have some fun adventure time!

YOUR #ocalaaccidentattorney,

Marianne Howanitz

www.ocalaaccidentlaw.com

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The more information your attorney has about your case, the more quickly and completely you can be compensated for your medical expenses and pain and suffering. Documenting accidents, site situations, and road conditions has proven priceless in dealing with and settling claims.  It has often changed the outcome of resulting lawsuits and helped establish just settlements.

To ensure a complete, speedy resolution to your case, make sure your lawyer has all the information and documentation he needs to pursue a settlement. If the accident happened a while ago that information may include:

  • Your vehicle, insurance, and driver’s license information.
  • Details of the accident, including:
    • Date, time, location.
    • Weather and traffic conditions.
    • Information about other vehicles, drivers and passengers.
    • Names and contact information for witnesses and copies of any accident or incident reports filed.
    • Any pictures you have taken at the scene. Sometimes the law enforcement officer takes pictures, make sure to get copies of those, also.
  • Copies of traffic tickets writtenat the scene and information about any charges brought against drivers involved, including DUI charges.
  • Physician reportand medical records related to the accident.
  • X-rays and test results related to injuriesfrom the accident.
  • Information about pre-existing conditionsor injuries that may have been exacerbated by the accident.
  • Record of expensesfor ongoing medications, treatment, and therapies.
  • Any other expenses incurred because of the accident, including transportation costs.
  • Documentation of days, hours and wages lostbecause of the accident.
  • Copies of all correspondencewith insurance companies related to the accident.

It is always helpful to keep a personal injury diary to note appointments, expenses, contacts with the insurance company and your general feelings and medical condition following the accident. Also, keep track of your medical mileage for re-imbursement.

Keep your attorney up to date and let them know about new doctor visits, Radiology visits or surgeries that you have scheduled.  An email to paralegal is usually sufficient so they can get updated records.

Stay safe out there friends!

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When you or your loved one suffer an injury as the result of somebody else’s action, perhaps it seems natural that the person would offer to compensate you for your injury, or that their insurance company will do the right thing and offer a fair settlement. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. Many people will not take responsibility for their actions, and insurance companies profit from undercompensating injury victims. Insurance companies and their lawyers also know the governing law backwards and forwards, and they know that most non-lawyers have no idea what legal rights and remedies they possess.

An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to build your case, how to negotiate your case with an insurance company, and, if necessary, how to take your case to trial. While it is possible to negotiate your claim with an insurance company yourself, insurance companies will typically do everything they can to take advantage of you and to effect the lowest possible settlement, while attempting to elicit statements from you that will damage your position if you ultimately decide to sue.

A lawyer is in a good position to help you obtain a favorable settlement that, even with the attorney fee deducted, significantly exceeds what you can obtain on your own.

One of the best ways to find a personal injury lawyer is to consult an attorney you trust. If you do not know any attorneys, ask your friends for names of attorneys they trust. It is not important that they give you the name of a lawyer who can handle your case – what is important is that the attorney is likely to comprehend the issues of your case, and is well-positioned to know which attorneys in your community have the skills to handle your case. Even if the attorney cannot personally take your case, he will often be able to refer you to a lawyer who can.

Please note that, when it comes to hiring a personal injury lawyer, many of the best personal injury attorneys do little or no advertising. They get their cases through “referrals” from other attorneys, due to their reputations for doing good work and getting good results.

Hiring a personal injury lawyer is a big step, and there is nothing wrong with consulting several lawyers to find one who makes you comfortable. Here at Marianne Howanitz, PA, we want you to do what you really need to do…relax, recover and let us take care of the rest.

Stay safe and informed out there friends!

YOUR Accident and Injury Attorney,

Marianne Howanitz

 

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grief
It’s hard to know what to say to someone who’s lost a family member in an accident.  The truth is, and it hurts in the worst way, is that the mourner will be alone in their grief.

 After much research to learn how to be there for my clients I like what Christy Heitger-Ewing says in the article she wrote for the Huffington Post, which I am posting below:

  1. “I feel your pain.”

This is not the same thing as, “I know how you feel,” which is a statement I would avoid uttering because even if you’ve shared a similar circumstance, everyone’s journey is uniquely their own. The words, “I feel your pain,” however, is an expression of empathy.

In the book Grieving the Loss of Someone You Love: Daily Meditations to Help You Through the Grieving Process, authors Raymond R. Mitsch and Lynn Brookside maintain that the words “I feel your pain” are the four most helpful words that can be uttered to a grieving person.

“No other single sentence does more to break down walls of isolation formed by deep sorrow and regret,” write Mitsch and Brookside. “When those words are merged with a touch or an embrace, they mend the heart and lift up downcast eyes. They tell the griever that he is not alone in his grief.”

  1. “How about a hug?”

I get that not everyone is touchy-feeling, but for me, at least, when I was newly grieving, I felt starved for hugs. I wanted to hug the UPS man who came to my door. I wanted to hug my spin instructor after class. I wanted to hug my neighbor and her little dog, too. It was almost as if I was a china doll that had been broken into pieces, and every hug offered a smidge of glue to help piece me back together.

Two weeks after my mom died, my son had an overnight field trip to the zoo. My husband was one of the chaperones. I packed them up and waved goodbye. As they pulled out of the driveway, an intense sense of loneliness settled into my soul. I remember going through my phone contacts and calling neighbors until one of them answered.

“Can you come over and give me a hug?” I asked.

I probably sounded pitiful, but that’s what I needed right then and there. A hug wasn’t going to take away all my pain, but it helped get me through that difficult moment.

  1. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

It’s direct. It’s honest. It gets to the point. It shows you care. And as Patti Fitzpatrick, a grief support facilitator and bereavement minister, notes, “Two simple but extremely helpful and healing solutions that anyone can do is to 1) show up, and 2) say, “I’m sorry for your loss. Period.”

  1. “I’m here for you.”

Truth be told, grief makes a lot of people uncomfortable. It’s hard to see someone you care about torn up emotionally. It’s natural to want to fix them, but that’s just not possible. Therefore, the most helpful thing you can do for someone who is hurting is to offer to just be there for them in whatever capacity they need.

Ben Keckler, the minister who runs my grief support group, explained this notion beautifully when he said, “When you’re grieving, you don’t want to be around people who will see through you. You want to be around people who will see you through.”

  1. “I’ll bring you some lasagna next Tuesday.”

This is just an example. Offering to do something specific is an alternative to the usual phrase that folks utter: “Let me know if you need anything.” People make this kind of open-ended gesture because they want to help and are not sure what the griever may need. But for those who are newly grieving, the truth is that they often don’t know what they need, either — and/or they don’t have the energy to figure it out and then call you to request it.

That’s why it’s better to just make a specific offer like, “I’m headed to the grocery. I can bring you some milk and bread if you’d like.”

  1. “Would you like to talk about your loved one?”

It’s natural to worry that if you bring up the subject of the person who died, you’ll make the griever sad. Actually, the opposite is true. When a person loses someone super close to them, after the death they will continue to think about their loved one constantly. After several months have passed, the griever is astounded by how rarely people mention the person who died. It’s heartbreaking, really. So when you bring up a memory or share a story about the person who passed away, it lets the griever know that others remember their loved one, too, and that’s really comforting news.

  1. Ask, “How are you doing?” Then listen — really listen — for the true answer.

When you make it clear that you’re asking for a real and honest answer and not just expecting the trite response of, “Oh, I’m fine,” that promotes healing. Keckler says that “fine” can be an acronym for “Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional.” That’s certainly an apt description for those who are newly grieving because their feelings truly are all over the map. Sorting through them can be difficult, which is why it’s nice to have people in their life with which they can share their genuine feelings.

A few months into my grief, I remember telling my husband that I had figured out who my “safe” people were. Through conversations and interactions, I could tell which of my friends were okay with my being my authentic self and which were not. The “safe” ones checked in with me regularly. They sat with me and let me cry. They didn’t mind when I called them sobbing so hard that they could barely discern a word I was saying. They let me share openly, and that’s what I needed.

  1. Say nothing.

Just so we’re clear, I’m not suggesting that you avoid the grieving person or that when you talk to them you should pretend that you don’t know their loved one has died. That behavior would be hugely hurtful. I’m suggesting that you not be afraid to close your mouth and open your heart. Hold their hand. Offer them a tissue. Make a pot of coffee. Ask if they’d like to go for a walk. Whatever you do, let them lead the conversation. Often the biggest gift you can give a grieving person is permission to speak freely.

Mitsch and Brookside write, “So many of us are taught not to talk about our wounds. We absorb the message, spoken or tacit, that ‘talking doesn’t help,’ ‘weeping doesn’t change things,’ ‘talking about it will just make you sad.’ None of those statements is true. Talking about our sorrow does not increase our sorrow; it purges our sorrow.”

“The truth is that they often don’t know what they need, either — and/or they don’t have the energy to figure it out” really struck a chord with me because so many of my clients are unable to deal with the sudden loss alone the issues that come from what needs to be done after the accident.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  As a friend you can do more than just offer your condolences….you can be there to look out for their best interests….something they are NOT thinking of at that time. 

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You can offer my services in their time of need. I will meet with them in their home and discretely and compassionately discuss their needs. If they retain my services, they can then do what they really need to do….relax, recover and let me take care of the rest.  I’m on it!

Posted Under: news

 

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A release from the US Department of State and the Board of Diplomatic Security in 2002 will help keep you safe on the road from becoming a victim of one of the most prevalent crimes in many parts of the world. Most carjackings occur for the sole purpose of taking the car; it is a crime without a political agenda and does not specifically target Americans.

You can protect yourself by becoming familiar with the methods, ruses, and locations commonly used by carjackers.

AVOIDANCE

The first step to avoiding an attack is to stay alert at all times and be aware of your environment. The most likely places for a carjacking are:

  • High crime areas
  • Lesser traveled roads (rural areas)
  • Intersections where you must stop
  • Isolated areas in parking lots
  • Residential driveways and gates
  • Traffic jams or congested areas

Learn to avoid these areas and situations if possible. If not, take steps to prevent an attack.

In traffic, look around for possible avenues of escape. Keep some distance between you and the vehicle in front so you can maneuver easily if necessary–about one-half of your vehicle’s length. (You should always be able to see the rear tires of the vehicle in front of you.)

When stopped, use your rear and side view mirrors to stay aware of your surroundings. Also keep your doors locked and windows up. This increases your safety and makes it more difficult for an attacker to surprise you.

Accidents are one ruse used by attackers to control a victim. Following are common attack plans:

The Bump—The attacker bumps the victim’s vehicle from behind. The victim gets out to assess the damage and exchange information. The victim’s vehicle is taken.

Good Samaritan—The attacker(s) stage what appears to be an accident. They may simulate an injury. The victim stops to assist, and the vehicle is taken.

The Ruse—The vehicle behind the victim flashes its lights or the driver waves to get the victim’s attention. The attacker tries to indicate that there is a problem with the victim’s car. The victim pulls over and the vehicle is taken.

The Trap—Carjackers use surveillance to follow the victim home. When the victim pulls into his or her driveway waiting for the gate to open, the attacker pulls up behind and blocks the victim’s car.

If you are bumped from behind or if someone tries to alert you to a problem with your vehicle, pull over only when you reach a safe public place.

If you are driving into a gated community, call ahead to have the gate opened. Otherwise wait on the street until the gate is open before turning in and possibly getting trapped.

Think before stopping to assist in an accident. It may be safer to call and report the location, number of cars involved, and any injuries you observed.

You can avoid becoming a victim. Ruses and methods, as well as the types of cars most often targeted, differ from country to country. Talk with the regional security officer (RSO) at your post about local scams and accident procedures.

In all cases keep your cell phone or radio with you and immediately alert someone regarding your situation.

DURING A CARJACKING

In most carjacking situations, the attackers are interested only in the vehicle. Try to stay calm. Do not stare at the attacker as this may seem aggressive and cause them to harm you.

There are two options during an attack–nonresistive, nonconfrontational behavior and resistive or confrontational behavior. Your reaction should be based on certain factors:

  • Type of attack
  • Environment (isolated or public)
  • Mental state of attacker (reasonable or nervous)
  • Number of attackers
  • Weapons
  • Whether children are present

In the nonconfrontational situation, you would:

  • give up the vehicle freely.
  • listen carefully to all directions.
  • make no quick or sudden movements that the attacker could construe as a counter attack.
  • always keeps your hands in plain view. Tell the attacker of every move in advance.
  • make the attacker aware if children are present. The attacker may be focused only on the driver and not know children are in the car.

In a resistive or confrontational response, you would make a decision to escape or attack the carjacker. Before doing so, consider:

  • the mental state of the attacker.
  • possible avenues of escape.
  • the number of attackers; there is usually more than one.
  • the use of weapons. (Weapons are used in the majority of carjacking situations.)

In most instances, it is probably safest to give up your vehicle.

AFTER THE ATTACK

Safety
Always carry a cell phone or radio on your person.

If you are in a populated area, immediately go to a safe place. After an attack or an attempted attack, you might not be focused on your safety. Get to a safe place before contacting someone to report the incident.

Reporting the Crime
Describe the event. What time of day did it occur? Where did it happen? How did it happen? Who was involved?

Describe the attacker(s). Without staring, try to note height, weight, scars or other marks, hair and eye color, the presence of facial hair, build (slender, large), and complexion (dark, fair).

Describe the attacker’s vehicle. If possible get the vehicle license number, color, make, model, and year, as well as any marks (scratches, dents, damage) and personal decorations (stickers, colored wheels).

The golden rule for descriptions is to give only that information you absolutely remember. If you are not sure, don’t guess!

CONCLUSION

Avoidance is the best way to prevent an attack. Use your judgment to evaluate the situation and possible reactions. Know safe areas to go to in an emergency. Always carry your cell phone or radio.

Non-confrontation is often the best response. The objective is not to thwart the criminal but to survive!

CLICK HERE to get free brochure download

 

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multitasking

Myth #1:  Drivers can multitask.

Reality:  Contrary to popular belief, the human brain cannot multitask. Driving and talking on a cell phone are two thinking tasks that involve many areas of the brain. Instead of processing both simultaneously, the brain rapidly switches between two cognitive activities.

Take the classic example of the act of walking and chewing gum. There is a common misconception that because people appear to simultaneously do both that they can just as easily talk on their cell phones and drive safely at the same time. The truth is that walking and chewing gum involve a thinking task and a non-thinking task. Conversation and driving are both thinking tasks.

Myth #2 Talking to someone on a cell phone is no different than talking to someone in the car.

Reality: A 2008 study cited by the University of Utah found that drivers distracted by cell phones are more oblivious to changing traffic conditions because they are the only ones in the conversation who are aware of the road. In contrast, drivers with adult passengers in their cars have an extra set of eyes and ears to help keep the drivers alert of oncoming traffic problems. Adult passengers also tend to adjust their talking when traffic is challenging. People on the other end of a driver’s cell phone cannot do that.

Myth #3 Hands-free devices eliminate the danger of cell phone use during driving.

Reality: Whether handheld or hands-free, cell phone conversations while driving are risky because the distraction to the brain remains. Activity in the parietal lobe, the area of the brain that processes movement of visual images and is important for safe driving, decreases by as much as 37% when listening to language, according to a study by Carnegie Mellon University. Drivers talking on cell phones can miss seeing up to 50% of their driving environments, including pedestrians and red lights. They look but they don’t see. This phenomenon is also known as “inattention blindness.”

Myth #4 Drivers talking on cell phones still have a quicker reaction time than those who are driving under the influence.

Reality: A controlled driving simulator study conducted by the University of Utah found that drivers using cell phones had slower reaction times than drivers with a .08 blood alcohol content, the legal intoxication limit.

There is a simple solution – drivers talking on cell phones can immediately eliminate their risk by hanging up the phone, while drunk drivers remain at risk until they sober up.

Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration | University Of Utah | The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety | National Safety Council

 

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RonshayDugansFSAPic0902

Our sincere condolences goes out to the family and friends of Joseph Grzeca. The day before yesterday Joseph was killed when a semi driver ran a red light on U.S. 301 near Summerfield, Florida and T-boned a pickup.  And then yesterday a Peterbuilt semi jack-knifed on I-75 closing it down for hours.  FHP stated that the driver “failed to drive in a safe and prudent manner”.  As an accident and injury attorney and a board member of the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America (APITLA), a national association of committed lawyers who have joined together to help eliminate unsafe and illegal interstate trucking practices, I am especially saddened and upset when this happens in my own community.

While large trucks make up less than 4% of all vehicles on US roadways, they account for over 12% of all traffic fatalities and this number has risen steadily since 2009.  Why is that?  It can be a number of reasons; negligent maintenance of trucks, unqualified truck drivers, unsafe management practices of trucking companies, but the truth is the number one safety problem in the interstate trucking industry for the last 30 years has remained the same:  fatigued truck drivers.

Even little Ronshay Dugans (pictured above), and her family’s best efforts, could not save Joseph Grzeca.  On Sept. 5, 2008, a school bus that belonged to a Boys and Girls Club was stopped in broad daylight when a cement truck plowed into the back of it in Tallahassee, Florida. Eight-year-old Ronshay Dugans was killed. The truck driver was reportedly drowsy when he got behind the wheel. Ronshay’s family worked tirelessly to get Florida’s legislation to pass a law that officially recognized that driving while fatigued is as dangerous as driving while under the influence and declaring the first week in September “Drowsy Driving Prevention Week”.  During this week, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Department of Transportation are encouraged to educate the law enforcement community and the public about the relationship between fatigue and performance and the research showing fatigue to be as much of an impairment as alcohol and as dangerous while operating a motor vehicle.

If you think driving drowsy is no big deal, listen to Leroy Smith’s view on the issue. Smith is a former official with the Florida Highway Patrol. “It is just as dangerous as drunk driving; just as alcohol and drugs could impair one’s normal faculties, so could sleeplessness and drowsiness. It could also slow one’s reaction time,” Smith reported to 10 News in 2010.

What is even more upsetting to me is that since the enactment of the Ronshay Duggans Act  in 2011, I have deposed many law enforcement officers who were in charge of investigating large truck related fatal accidents and they never heard of the Ronshay-Dugans Act!  Additionally, they failed to investigate the medical conditions, dispatch patterns, or any other risk factors related to fatigue driving of the truck driver.  If the log books looked in order and the toxicology screen came back negative there was no further investigation into the issue of whether trucker fatigue played a role in the fatal crash.  While drowsy driving may initially be difficult to detect, you can look at the facts of a case and, in retrospect, fatigue is the only explanation for the actions or inactions of the truck driver the moments before and after a fatal crash.

If a friend or relative is involved in a fatal or catastrophic truck accident, act quickly to get the advice and protection of an accident attorney with experience in investigating and litigating claims against trucking companies. Time is of the essence as critical evidence, such as event data recorders, dispatch records and on-board video tapes can be lost or destroyed if not preserved through prompt legal action.  These are businesses that don’t make money unless they “keep the wheels rolling” and don’t want to be slowed down or saddled with what the media would describe as “frivolous claims”.

To all the safe trucking companies and truckers out there, I thank you for doing your part in keeping our roads safe for all of us.  To those unsafe trucking companies and truckers, please change your ways and follow the rules and regulations that are already in place.  They may save your life as well as others.  But if you injure or kill someone because of your unsafe practices and I’m hired on the case, you better believe that I’m coming after you with everything I’ve got.  Be safe out there!

geico
geico

Happy National Car Insurance Day!!! Well, let’s face it, it’s not a romantic holiday like Valentine’s Day, and it had a little industry help in getting started, but it is reminding us of something important.  We spend billions on car insurance every year and very few of us understand exactly how it works, especially when we need it.  Take time to get out your policy and read all the fine print.  You’ll be surprised to see what might be covered.  And very surprised to see what isn’t covered.

There’s a saying among insurance defense attorneys (I used to be one!) that “the Policy giveth, and the exclusions taketh away”.  What that means is that what you see in the first few pages of your policy “ain’t exactly true”! It’s the fine print at the end of the policy in the “exclusions” that will ultimately apply/bite you in the butt.

Recently I wrote an article on checking your policy for Bodily Injury and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage and many of you thanked me for the information.  I hope that a little more information on this subject will help you all be better consumers and protect your rights and property.

 

 

 

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Traveling with a pet by car involves more than just loading the animal in the back seat and motoring off, especially if you will be driving long distances or plan to be away for a long time. Here are a few car travel safety tips from the ASPCA website to help you prepare for a smooth and safe trip.

  • Prep your pet for a long trip. Get your pet geared up by taking him on a series of short drives first, gradually lengthening time spent in the car. If you’re traveling across state lines, bring along your pet’s rabies vaccination record. While this generally isn’t a problem, some states require this proof at certain interstate crossings.
  • Keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. Secure your pet’s crate so it will not slide or shift in the event of an abrupt stop. If you decide to forgo the crate, don’t allow your pet to ride with his head outside the window, and always keep him in the back seat in a harness attached to a seat buckle.
  • Prep a pet-friendly travel kit. Bring food, a bowl, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and first-aid, and any travel documents. Pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity. Be sure to pack plenty of water, and avoid feeding your pet in a moving vehicle. Your pet’s travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure, and always opt for bottled water. Drinking water from an area he or she isn’t used to could result in stomach discomfort.
  • Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can develop. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

If you or your passengers are injured in an auto accident, auto insurance coverage will cover your medical bills and expenses. But what if you’re in a car accident and your pet is injured?

Car insurance and pet coverage

Whether your pet is covered depends on your policy and auto insurance company. Most insurance companies provide no coverage for pet passengers, but some offer special coverage for pets, regardless of fault. Progressive, for example, has special injury coverage of up to $1,000 for pets. It’s built into collision coverage, so you must purchase that to ensure your pets are covered.

However, if your pet is seriously injured, $1,000 will cover some, but not all, of your veterinary bills. Vet bills for injured pets can reach into the thousands, depending on the extent of the injuries and the treatment required.

Check with your insurance agent to obtain coverage or see if your pets are already covered in your policy.  Pets are members of the family, and I want your whole family to be safe out there!