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Plenty of us dislike driving at night.  High beams shining in your eyes are an annoyance and dangerous.  Fatalities on the road occur at a rate three times greater at night than during the day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While only a quarter of all driving is done at night, more than half of all driving deaths occur at that time.

Drivers middle-aged and older are more sensitive to glare than younger drivers because their eyes take longer to adjust to changing light levels. For example, a 55 year old takes eight times longer to recover from glare than a 16 year old. As the population ages, the number of older drivers will continue to rise as will the number of complaints about glare. Lighter-colored eyes are more sensitive which means the lighter your eyes are, the more glare will bother you. Certain other conditions such as having had vision-correction surgery that affects the corneas may also increase your sensitivity to glare.

Behind the Wheel Tips

  1. Avert Your Eyes

When oncoming vehicles shine light directly into your eyes, look down and to the right. Turn your gaze to the white line on the right side of the road, or to where pavement meets shoulder, until the vehicle goes by. You can still see the vehicles around you with your peripheral vision but the glare won’t bother you as much because you are not using the most light sensitive part of your eyes.

  1. Learn to Use Your Mirror’s “Night” Setting

All cars have “day/night” interior mirrors to reduce reflected glare from vehicles directly behind you. You can change the mirror to its “night” setting by flipping the small lever at the bottom of the mirror. This changes the angle of the reflective surface and appears to dim the mirror. Lights will show up in the glass but they’re much less bright and not so bothersome.

  1. Use Your Lights Courteously

In fog, use only your low beam headlights.  High beams reduce your own ability to see and may temporarily blind other drivers. If your car has fog lamps, only use them if there is fog and in conjunction with your low beams. Avoid using your high beams when you see oncoming vehicles or when you drive in urban areas.

  1. Take Frequent Breaks

If you’re driving at night for a long time, stop often to reduce fatigue and give your eyes a chance to recover. Take a short nap, or at least a brisk walk and some caffeine to help you stay alert.

Get regular eye exams and stay safe out there friends!

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How do you feel about driving roundabouts?  I know there was a lot of initial opposition to the new roundabouts on Fort King here in Ocala a while ago, but after a bit a research on the subject, I found out a few things that I didn’t know about them and thought you might also find it interesting.

Did you know that roundabouts are a safer alternative to traffic signals and stop signs? The tight circle of a roundabout forces drivers to slow down, and makes the most severe types of intersection crashes — right-angle, left-turn and head-on collisions — unlikely. At traditional intersections with stop signs or traffic signals, these types of collisions can be severe because vehicles may be traveling through the intersection at high speeds. With roundabouts, these types of potentially serious crashes essentially are eliminated because vehicles travel in the same direction and at low speeds —generally less than 20 mph in urban areas and less than 30-35 mph in rural areas. The vehicle-to-vehicle conflicts that do occur at roundabouts generally involve a vehicle merging into the circular roadway or in the case of multi-lane roundabouts, conflicts also occur as vehicles exit.

Did you know roundabouts improve traffic flow and are better for the environment? Research shows that traffic flow improves following conversion of traditional intersections to roundabouts. Less idling reduces vehicle emissions and fuel consumption.

Did you know roundabouts generally are safer for pedestrians? Pedestrians walk on sidewalks around the perimeter and cross only one direction of traffic at a time. Crossing distances are relatively short and traffic speeds are lower than at traditional intersections.

Before you play roundabout roulette, check out this great graphic explaining how to drive in a roundabout at http://www.districtgov.org/community/Roundabout-02-08-12.pdf.

Now that I know more, I’m all for roundabouts!  Anything that helps to keep us safe out there is a good thing!

blowntire

Getting ready for that long-awaited road trip to a great vacation?  Along with finding that perfect bathing suit and downloading the perfect playlist, you should also be preparing your car for the trip.  Tires are an important part of your car’s safety and tire blowout season begins in the middle of May and runs through early October.  The reason for this is simple.  It is during this time frame that the temperatures outside are the hottest and motorists are taking longer road trips in heavily loaded vehicles.  It is this combination that can push a damaged or neglected tire past its breaking point.  Even if you have been lucky enough to avoid tire problems, you have likely seen “road gators” (treads of blown out tires) littering the highways throughout this time frame.  Though blowouts are most common during these months, they can happen any time of year, especially in warmer climates like Florida.

The NHTSA estimates that 8,000+ car accidents every year can be attributed to tire blowouts.

These are the most common causes of tire blowouts, and how you can prevent them according to Virginia Tire Service in Arizona:

  1. This is the number one tire killer and something so easy to remedy. Air is what allows the tire to carry the weight of your vehicle and all of its cargo. The internal parts of the tire:  fabric, rubber, composites and steel flex beyond their limits when the tire is improperly inflated. They will weaken, over-flex and eventually fail, which results in a blowout.  The recommended tire pressure for your vehicle can be found in your owner’s manual or on the driver’s side door jamb.  Most vehicles manufactured in 2007 and newer are equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), however, you shouldn’t rely solely on the system. The system issues an alert only when a tire is significantly underinflated.  Regardless of what your TPMS says, you should check your tire pressure at least once a month, maybe twice from May through October.
  2. Worn tires.  The heat of the roads in the summer will easily rip away at the remaining tread resulting in a blown tire. Today’s tires almost always have a wear bar built into the grooves.  If the wear bar is even with the tread of your tires, they need to be replaced.  Another way to tell is the penny test.  Basically, you place a penny head down between the tread.  If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, then the tread is dangerously low and you need a new tire.
  3. Too much weight. Overloading your vehicle and applying too much weight to the tires can also critically damage them.  When hauling a heavy load, you may need to reconsider the number of passengers along for the ride or if you need to carry a lot of passengers you may need to limit the amount of cargo you bring on board.  You can find your vehicle’s Gross Vehicular Weight Rating in the same places as the recommended tire pressure.  The maximum recommended weight your tires can carry is based on tires that are properly inflated.  If they are underinflated, the number would drop significantly.
  4. Potholes and other road hazards. Slamming into a pothole, driveway lip or other road hazards are another way to injure your tire leaving it prone to a blowout.  These impacts can pinch the internals of the tire between the wheel and the object.  If the impact is hard enough, it can even fray or cut the tires internals.  Sometimes, the damage is immediately apparent and other times, it could take days, weeks, or even months for the damage to become apparent.  Which leads us to the next potential cause of a blowout.
  5. Slow death. It is not uncommon for a tire to suffer damage that causes its demise long before it fails.  Often motorists neglect to check their tire pressure or fail to realize they have a slow leak.  When summer vacation comes along they will load their family into the car and head off for a fun-filled vacation.  The combination of the heavy vehicle load, the high summer temperature and highway speeds add stress to the already failing tire and it blows. Monthly or bimonthly tire checks can prevent such a situation.

When a vehicle has a defective tire, this may significantly compromise a driver’s ability to maneuver the vehicle.  This may lead to a single-vehicle or multi-vehicle collision that leaves drivers, passengers and even nearby pedestrians or bicyclists seriously injured.  Should this happen to you, make sure that you call an experienced dangerous and defective products attorney to help you get compensated for your medical bills, lost wages and ruined vacation.

And as always, stay safe out there friends!

YOUR #accidentattorney Marianne

 

 

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Did you know that one person is injured or killed in a truck accident every 16 minutes? 

The United States Department of Transportation estimates that over 500,000 truck accidents occur every year. More than 75% of truck driving accidents are due to the driver of the passenger vehicle.

Did you know that typically the injuries to the victims are severe and often fatal?

Large trucks account for only about 3% of auto accidents, yet because of their sheer size and weight, a semi-truck or 18-wheeler can cause incredible damage to the other vehicles involved and their passengers.

Do you know what to do if you are injured in an accident involving a commercial truck?

Seek medical help immediately, make sure everything is documented, make sure that law enforcement has responded to the accident and made a report.  Never take any calls from insurance companies without consulting with an attorney that specializes in trucking accident collisions first.  Often these accidents are the result of trucking safety or driving law violations. State and federal regulations often come into play in a truck collision. Truck accident cases can be complicated because the truck, trailer and contents can be owned by different companies and operated by yet other independent companies. For this reason, it’s imperative that you work with a Florida truck accident attorney who is skilled in this area of litigation.

Do you know what to do if someone loses their life in a trucking accident?

Once again, it is important that you speak with a skilled truck accident attorney.  There are many processes that the families of the deceased must go through and it can be very overwhelming given the grief and stress they are already enduring.  Having the right attorney and her staff helping them through the process can provide a lot of relief at that time.

Did you know that Marianne Howanitz is a nationally recognized truck accident attorney?

I am always available to answer any other questions or concerns you might have about a truck accident. And, as always, there is no charge to you at any time until or unless a settlement is reached.  You may reach me at 352-512-0444 or through my website: www.ocalaaccidentlaw.com.

Did you know this fun fact?

The world’s most solitary tree is located at an oasis in the Tenere Desert in Central Africa. There’s not one other standing tree within 31 miles. In 1960, it was smashed into by a truck.

As always, stay safe out there friends!

YOUR #truckaccidentattorney, Marianne

driving-anxiety

Last week I wrote about a young client of mine who developed an intense fear of driving or being a passenger in an automobile after she was involved in a rear end collision that injured her.  Many of you expressed a similar fear, so this week I researched to find some helpful tips to overcome, or at least alleviate, this common fear.

If you are someone that would like to overcome a driving fear, these tips from Jennifer Johnson may be very helpful. If you are the type of person who would rather run in the opposite direction in order to avoid driving or if you find yourself wobbling on jelly-legs whenever you try to open the driver’s door, it is possible that you are suffering from driving anxiety. Here are some tips on how you can cope with driving anxiety…

Relaxation Techniques

Deep breathing exercises are one of the most effective relaxation techniques for anxiety disorders.

Self-talking and positive affirmations are another relaxation technique that you can make use of while driving.  Tell yourself some words of encouragement such as “I can do this and I will be at my destination very soon and safely!”

Another self-talk technique is to tell yourself your reason for driving and outline the details or purpose for the trip.  The key here is to try to relax yourself by distracting your mind and keeping it away from any negative thoughts that will only exacerbate your feelings of anxiety.

Think of the good points for your purpose of driving. Are you excited about your arrival or the event coming up?

There are also self-help driving programs that have been helpful to many.

Observe Mindfulness While Driving

You need to observe ‘mindfulness’ all throughout the duration of your trip. Don’t allow your anxiety to make you lose focus whilst driving! Once you notice your hands starting to grip the steering wheel more tightly and your mind is telling you about impending accidents…stop your thoughts and get back to rule number one. Use relaxation techniques.

Choose A Driving Companion

People who are suffering from driving anxiety should carefully choose someone to keep them company while driving.  It should be someone whom you trust and someone who is very much aware of your anxiety and completely understands your condition.

This person must also be prepared to help you relax and stay calm.

Avoid those people who do not understand your anxiety or those who will only be causing you more stress and anxiety behind the wheel. Even if it is a husband or wife…if they are not supportive…do not drive…let them. Only drive with people who can help…not hinder. If you also hate being a passenger, say positive affirmations and deep breathe.

Know When To Take Driving Breaks

If you are experiencing driving anxiety, it is best to take several breaks behind the wheel. For example, you can take a break every 30 minutes of driving. You can either have someone else drive the car or you can look for a safe place to park for a few minutes.

You may increase the length of time for driving and shorten the time for your breaks once you notice yourself improving. If you are in a hurry, allow a trusted friend or someone else to do the driving for you.

Anxiety First Aid Kit

Another important thing that you must remember before you start driving is to check whether your anxiety first aid kit is complete.  Make sure that you have your bottle of water, cell phone with its charger and your relaxation CD inside the car.  It would also be best to have your own GPS so you can easily find your way back especially when you are driving to unfamiliar places.

Avoid Taking Anti-Anxiety Medications

Anti-anxiety medications may effectively relieve your anxiety. Unfortunately, most of these anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications cannot be taken while driving.  Taking these medications before or during driving is not recommended and will only increase your risk of accidents.

There are other tips too, such as progressive muscle relaxation for driving anxiety. There are self-help programs too and in my opinion these natural anxiety relief techniques are the best!

I sincerely hope this is helpful! Stay safe out there friends!

YOUR #accidentattorney Marianne Howanitz

 References

  1. http://www.theravive.com/blog/post/2011/09/25/Coping-With-Your-Driving-Anxieties.aspx
  2. http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/types/driving
  3. http://www.wikihow.com/Overcome-a-Driving-Phobia
  4. Anxiety relief techniques blog by Jennifer Johnson

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Many of us choose to travel during the holidays by automobile, traveling to visit relatives or taking a winter vacation, but with the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation, taking the family vehicle is dangerous. In 2013, 360 people died on Thanksgiving Day, 88 on Christmas Day, and 343 people on New Year’s Day  according to Injury Facts 2015. Alcohol-impaired fatalities represented 31% of the totals. There are other dangers out there too friends.

Here are some great, simple tips from AAA and myself to help make your drive a smooth one, so you can arrive at your destination safely and without incident.

  1. Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. If maintenance is not up to date, have your car and tires inspected before you take a long drive.
  2. Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads during the most popular times of the year. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
  3. Keep anything of value in the trunk or covered storage area.
  4. If you’re traveling with children, remind them not to talk to strangers. Go with them on bathroom breaks and give them whistles to be used only if the family gets separated.
  5. Have roadside assistance contact information on hand, in case an incident occurs on the road.
  6. In case of an emergency, keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times. AAA and many other companies offer smartphone applications that enable motorists to request help without making a phone call.
  7. Of course, never drive more than 8 hours straight. Fatigued driving is the same as drunk driving.
  8. And lastly, but certainly not least, NO TEXTING!

With a little prep, you can leave the road-trip stress at home and arrive safely to enjoy your holiday with family and friends.

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Chances are that after an accident your first priority was to recover from the injuries your body sustained. Many of my clients struggle mentally in the wake of a crash. If this happens to you, it’s important to get help.

It might have been a crash where you were the driver, a passenger, a pedestrian or even just an observer.

Lynda Matthews, the Head of the Rehabilitation Counselling Unit at the University of Sydney, says that while many people will recover totally, even from severe road crashes, up to 30 per cent of people will have to deal with a negative psychological response.

“It’s not so much the severity of the crash or the severity of any resulting injury that counts – it’s how someone perceives it,” Dr. Matthews says.  “If you perceive the crash as life-threatening, or if someone is killed in the accident, then that can influence your response.”

The good news is that most people will recover from the anxiety which is a natural reaction to a stressful incident. Some people will have no symptoms of anxiety at all, others will have a few, while others will run the full gamut.

Common symptoms of anxiety include worrying, being very active, feeling irritable, unable to relax or sleep properly, having no energy, finding it difficult to concentrate, feeling upset, angry, confused, tired, helpless or ‘out-of-control’.

Anxiety can make a person feel unsociable and you may have unwanted thoughts or experience problems with personal relationships.

Dr. Matthews says that most people recovering from a crash generally focus first on physical recovery – treatment in hospital, visiting physiotherapists and the like. It’s also very important for people to tell doctors if they are feeling anxious or distressed.
And there are simple things you can do if you feel anxiety taking control.

“If you feel like it, it’s good to talk with people about the accident. One of the most important parts of recovery is having support from family and friends,” says Dr. Matthews.

“It’s also very important to try and re-engage with your social scene and get back to work – to get back to your pre-crash lifestyle.”

LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF

Here are some tips to look after your mental health following an accident:

  1. Give yourself time. Any difficult period in your life needs time to heal. Be patient with yourself and what you are feeling. Anxiety is normal for everyone.
  2. Talk to someone about the accident. It may be a friend, family member or someone you feel comfortable with. Just talking about your experiences, getting information about anxiety and meeting any practical needs is often all that is required to help you manage your anxiety.
  3. Look after yourself. When people feel anxious they often neglect themselves. Eat balanced meals and try to get plenty of sleep. Do some exercise, like going for a walk. Avoid increasing the amount of alcohol you drink and avoid drugs that have not been prescribed by your doctor.
  4. Take some time for yourself and do a hobby or other enjoyable activity.

WHEN TO SEEK HELP

You should seek medical advice if your symptoms:

  • Are worrying you.
  • Are preventing you from doing your normal activities.
  • Have lasted longer than three months after the accident.
  • Are causing your friends and/or relatives to be worried about you.

If your symptoms don’t ease after 3 months, or if your symptoms are severe enough to stop you living your normal life, then you have may an anxiety disorder, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Most people who are involved in a road crash won’t develop an anxiety disorder. If you do, you may experience extreme anxiety and disturbing irrational thoughts and fears. Every part of your life suffers and you seem overpowered by the experience of the crash.

Some people may:

  • Have flashbacks to the accident.
  • Dream about the accident.
  • Become distressed when exposed to reminders of the accident.
  • Feel like they are continually in a daze.
  • Be out of touch with the world or feel that their life does not seem real.
  • Avoid thoughts, feelings or conversations associated with the accident even when they may be beneficial.
  • Feel guilty about the crash.
  • Problems getting back in the car.

Dr. Matthews says that necessity will get most people back into a motor vehicle, but some people might experience difficulty.

“The general principle is, where there’s fear of something then it’s good to take it in small steps,” she says. “Make sure you have people with you to offer support, and take it slowly.”

TREATMENT AND SUPPORT

It’s important to know that, with the right treatment and support, you can recover from an anxiety disorder. Your Primary doctor is the best person to speak to first. Other health practitioners, like psychologists, social workers, counselors and psychiatrists, can help to treat anxiety disorders.

WHERE TO GET HELP

The following organizations and websites provide information on getting treatment for anxiety and help with driving anxiety.

Anxiety Disorders Association of America  www.adaa.org

National Center for PTSD http://www.ptsd.va.gov/

http://www.wikihow.com/Overcome-a-Driving-Phobia

http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/geared/your_driving_skills/car_crashes/after_the_crash.html

 

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When you are the victim of a hit and run accident, you likely feel angry and confused, and it can be unclear how to get compensation for your damages and injuries. However, there are steps you can take to create a smoother experience, should you be in this unfortunate situation.

Gather as much information as you can to help police and your car insurance company identify the other vehicle. Try to find and get contact information for any witnesses.

If you have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and/or collision coverage, your provider may cover the damage in a hit and run and compensate you or any of your passengers for any injuries.

 

What Is a Hit and Run Accident?

A hit and run accident is any accident in which a driver intentionally leaves the scene without providing contact information.

Examples of hit and run accidents include:

  • A car hits you and speeds off.
  • A driver hits your unattended parked car and leaves no contact information or way of collecting damages.

What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident

While you’ll likely be feeling immense stress if you’re a victim of a hit and run, it will help to stay as calm as possible and gather as much information as you can.

Having more information:

  • Increases the chances that the police will catch the driver who hit you.
  • Helps your car insurance company make decisions about your claim.
  • First, get as much information as you can about the car that hit you, such as:
    • Make,
    • Model,
    • License plate number.

Finally, take the following steps before leaving the scene:

  • Write down the time and location of the accident.
  • Take pictures of the accident scene.
  • Take pictures of your car, especially if another car’s paint is visible on it. (This will help you prove that you are not attempting to defraud your insurance company.)

If the hit and run occurred when you were away from your parked car, jot down as much information as you can, such as:

  • Time,
  • Location,
  • Damage.

Who Pays for Hit and Run Damage and Medical Care?

This depends on certain factors, including whether the fleeing driver was identified and what state you live in.

Payment for hit-and-run claims usually comes through your own car insurance. In most states, the coverages in question are uninsured motorist bodily injury and uninsured motorist property damage, which essentially act as the at-fault (in this case, hit-and-run) driver’s liability coverage. Uninsured motorist bodily injury helps pay for injuries caused by a hit-and-run accident, while uninsured motorist property damage covers damages to your car.

The good news is that these coverages are relatively affordable, and they offer significant financial protection from the uninsured (or hit-and-run-committing) drivers up to the limits you select.

YOUR #accidentattorney,

Marianne Howanitz

Sources:  dmv.org and esurance.com

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The answer is yes. Even after a minor accident, a police officer can help you sort things out, and document what happened in case that becomes important in the future. As nice as the other driver might seem, their story may change and it will be difficult to prove without the backup of a police report, as recently happened to one of my clients. Having an accident report cuts down on the he said/she said at the get go.

A police officer’s presence at the scene — and any resulting police report — may be crucial to your claim. A trained police officer can be an invaluable source of help and information in such a confusing situation. A police officer can:

  • provide or call for emergency medical care (of course, if there are injuries, someone should call 911 as soon as possible, before calling the police)
  • protect the accident scene, and
  • investigate and document the cause of the accident.

In cases involving injuries, substantial damage to the vehicles, or significant motor vehicle law violations, the officer will write a police report of a car accident. Make sure to get the name and badge number of the officer and the police agency that the officer represents so you can get a copy of the accident report after it’s written. Also get the report number if it’s available.  There will probably be a small charge for the police report, but it’s worth it. The police accident report is a critical document which is relied upon fairly heavily by everyone involved in the claims process.

If You Have a Fender-Bender With No Injuries

Should you still call the police even if your accident is just a minor one? The answer is usually yes. Even after a minor accident, a police officer can help you sort things out, and document what happened in case that becomes important in the future. However, in many metropolitan areas, the police probably won’t come to the scene of your minor fender-bender. They will simply tell you to exchange information with the other driver. The police will not prepare a report in this situation.

If the Police Tells You to Just Exchange Information

If you do call the police, and they tell you to just exchange information with the other driver, what information should you exchange? At a minimum, make sure you get from the other driver(s) — and that the other driver(s) get from you — the following information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone numbers
  • Name of car insurance company
  • Policy number
  • Name, address and telephone number of insurance representative that you should contact about this accident.
  • License plate number (and state in which the car is registered)

Ask to see documents from which you can copy this information, such as a driver’s license and an insurance verification card. Why? Sometimes, drivers — such as those who don’t have insurance — will give false information if you don’t verify what they are telling you. If they won’t verify their information, call the police and insist that the driver stay until the police arrive.

If you are suspicious about the information you are getting, call the other driver’s insurance company from the scene of the accident to verify for yourself that the other driver has given you accurate information. But only verify coverage. Don’t give accident details to the other driver’s insurance company. Not yet. You’ll do that later, after you’re away from the scene of your accident and have calmed down.

If the Police Are On Their Way

If you call the police, and they do send an officer to the scene of your minor accident, they may give it a low priority. It could take up to one hour for an officer to arrive after you call the police. Wait for them. What should you do while you are waiting for them to arrive?

  • Assess the situation
  • Help anyone who is hurt
  • Protect the scene against further damage
  • Don’t make any agreements with the other driver at the scene
  • Document the scene with your cell phone or camera, and
  • Contact your own insurance company to notify them and see if they have anything they want you to do while there.

Once the police officer arrives, speak only with him or her about the specifics of your accident. Provide the information that the officer requests, but be careful what you say, even to the officer.

If you have any questions about what you should do, contact your local accident attorney for a free consultation.  My office is always happy to answer your questions!

Stay safe out there, friends!

 

 

 

Source:  http://www.all-about-car-accidents.com/

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What is GAP Insurance and why should I add this coverage to my automobile policy?
GAP insurance or “guaranteed auto protection” is a coverage that you may purchase for your already existing automobile insurance policy. This coverage will pay for the difference between your vehicle’s actual cash value and the amount that you still owe to the bank or finance company at the time of loss. Insurance companies will only pay what your vehicle is worth at the time of loss (actual cash value) and if the vehicle is depreciated they will deduct that amount. Therefore, you could end up paying for the difference of the amount you owe on your car loan and the car’s current estimated value. As a result, you may want to purchase GAP insurance in order to protect your investment.
Over the years I have had many clients who were injured in auto accidents in Florida and time and time again my clients assumed that their comprehensive and collision insurance will pay for their vehicle damage. These clients were surprised to find out that at the conclusion of the case they did not receive full compensation in their property damage because they did not purchase GAP insurance. So do your research and contact your insurance company and request a quote for GAP insurance coverage before you really need it!