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AAA Travel projects 36.1 million Americans will journey at least 50 miles from home during this year’s Memorial Day weekend. This is a 1.5 percent increase from the 35.5 million people who traveled last year. Eighty-eight percent of travelers (31.8 million) are predicted to travel by automobile, an increase from 31.4 million last year.

The volume of car accidents during holiday weekends is substantially higher than at any other times during the year. This can be attributed to heightened levels of drivers’ stress, alcohol consumption, interior passengers, cell phone use, GPS systems, and lack of sleep. Behind the wheel is not the place to gamble against these odds.

It is in drivers’ best interest to review protection benefits provided by their auto policy well before the rubber meets the road. We recommend putting aside time for an insurance plan “refresher” before kick starting your holiday adventure.

In case of an accident, remember that medical coverage on a driver’s auto insurance policy refers to actual physical injury, not emotional distress and/or ‘pain & suffering. In certain states, if the other driver is at fault, the injured party may be able to recover this, so check whether your state is a ‘no fault’ state ahead of time.

As for pay-outs, they are often not full replacement cost. Nor are total loss decisions derived from common consumer-utilized valuation tools such as Kelly Blue Book.

If you plan to rent a vehicle, we advise purchasing the rental company’s insurance, in addition to the ‘automatic’ rental coverage extended from your auto policy. In essence, should a driver ‘total’ the rental car, their personal auto coverage will pay out under its own terms but the ‘loss of income’ from a rented vehicle expected to last ten more years can quickly become the financial obligation of the driver – and their personal auto policy is not going to pay for it.

Most importantly, use common sense when taking to the highways this weekend. Drive during daylight hours when possible for better visibility. Be thoroughly rested before getting behind the wheel. Take frequent driving breaks on long trips. Last, avoid road rage by using breathing exercises or playing soothing music.

Posted 1:20 PM  View Comments

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