Last year winter damage led to more than 175,000 insurance claims totaling more than $1.5 billion. Drivers are especially vulnerable to winter extremes. According to the Automobile Association of America, as many as five million drivers have been stranded on roads during the winter season. Don’t get caught in the cold. Here are some ways to handle the worst that winter has to offer.
While it’s safest to avoid driving in bad weather, that isn’t always possible. Before you find yourself caught in a winter wallop, make sure your vehicle is ready for whatever the season brings.
Get a Check-up
Have a technician inspect your vehicle. Schedule any overdue maintenance, such as an oil change, and have them check your hoses and belts for signs of wear; inspect your brakes, headlights and windshield wipers; and look over your heater/defroster and battery, especially if it’s more than three years old.
Get Winter Tires
Winter tires are built for better traction on snow and ice. Their treads are designed to help you slow down and stop on slippery roads. They may be your smartest and safest investment.
Get Topped Up
When a winter storm hits, vision is everything—so make sure you top up with washer fluid rated for freezing temperatures. Check your antifreeze (a weak solution can ice over and damage your cooling system). And don’t forget about fuel! Keeping your gas tank more than half full at all times will not only keep you from getting stranded on a snowy day, it will also help keep your fuel lines from freezing when the temperature drops.
What to do
Has a bout of bad weather got you stuck at the side of the road? Here’s how to get help and stay safe:
- Know where you are. Are there notable landmarks, a major intersection or highway markers? Knowing your general location lets you get help faster.
- If you’re safely out of traffic, wait inside your vehicle and call for help. Heavy snow and rain can make you less visible to other drivers.
- Switch on your safety/emergency flashers to make your vehicle visible.
- Assess your situation and the condition of your vehicle. Ventilate the vehicle as necessary and run the engine as little as possible until help arrives.
How to Handle an Accident
- Call the police or 911.
- Stay at the scene in a safe location and exchange any necessary information with those involved (names, phone numbers, location of accident, etc.).
- Contact GEICO to inform us of your situation. For insurance purposes, take photos of the damage to all vehicles and/or property, the accident scene and identification, including insurance cards and license plates.
When you’re stranded, you want help fast. That’s where GEICO’s Emergency Road Service (ERS) steps in. With 24/7 toll-free assistance (including holidays), GPS locator through the GEICO App, quick response times and personal assistance, help is on the way in a jiffy.
GEICO’s ERS is also available through our mobile app—download it now for emergency service at your fingertips!
Next article: Winter presents its own unique set of challenges for drivers. Are your winter driving skills up to par? Check out these tips for driving in snow and ice.