During a typical Illinois winter, driving on snow-packed or icy roads is often unavoidable. If you’ve slid on ice resulting in an accident, you may wonder whether your insurance company will find you to be at fault. Review this guide to discover whether sliding on ice is an at-fault accident and learn what types of insurance may cover accidents caused by sliding on ice.
Who’s At Fault in an Accident Involving Ice?
Very icy roads and sidewalks by Peter Stevens is licensed with CC BY 2.0
If your car slides on a patch of ice during a Chicago snowstorm, your insurance company will likely consider it to be an at-fault accident, even if it happened due to poor road conditions. In inclement weather, including snow and ice, drivers are responsible for exercising caution to avoid slipping on the roadway and causing an accident. Unfortunately, the justification “my car slipped on ice” won’t prevent you from being held responsible for the accident in most cases.
After the accident, your insurer may determine you were driving too fast for the conditions. While you may have been driving slowly, simply being on the roadway in the first place may lead your insurance company to classify it as an at-fault accident. Other causes of ice-related accidents often include:
- Braking too quickly.
- Driving while fatigued or distracted.
- Driving too close to the vehicle in front of you.
Does Car Insurance Cover Snow Accidents?
Regardless of fault, different types of car insurance cover damages resulting from bad-weather accidents. Here are some common types of car insurance and what they cover in these situations:
Illinois requires all drivers to carry minimum liability coverage. You must have bodily injury liability coverage of at least $25,000 per person per accident and $50,000 total per accident. In addition, the state requires you to have property damage liability coverage of $20,000 per accident. Liability insurance covers damages or injuries caused to another person. For example, if you hit a patch of ice and collide with another vehicle, your property damage liability insurance will cover the repairs to the other person’s car, up to the limits you have on your policy.
This type of car insurance will pay for damages to your own vehicle if you slide on the ice and get into an accident. It covers repairs to your vehicle if you hit another car or an object, such as a mailbox or tree. Illinois doesn’t require drivers to have collision coverage, but lenders often mandate this insurance if you finance your vehicle. The deductible for this insurance can vary depending on your policy.
If you or your passengers are injured in an accident involving ice, this coverage will pay for your medical expenses. It’s effective even if you’re found to be at fault in the accident. It’s not mandatory to have this insurance in Illinois, but it may still be worth adding to your policy.
While optional, towing coverage can be helpful if you find yourself stuck after sliding on the ice. This type of insurance pays for the full or partial cost of towing services after an accident. If you need a tow truck after an ice-related accident, call your insurance provider to determine who to contact.
What To Do If You’re Involved in an Ice-Related Accident
If you’re involved in a crash during winter weather, the first step is to assess yourself, your passengers, and others involved in the accident for injuries. Call 911 immediately if you or anyone else needs medical attention. If you’re able, administer first aid to others until first responders arrive.
Once you’ve determined everyone is safe, move your vehicle out of the roadway and to a different location, if possible. If you slid on ice, it’s likely other drivers will do the same, and remaining in the area may put you at further risk of harm. Then, if no one has called the police yet, report the accident and wait for officers to arrive. During winter weather, police may respond to many crashes, and you may be waiting for a while. Make sure you have warm clothes, non-perishable snacks, and water in your car so you can stay comfortable.
After speaking with the police about the accident, contact your insurance company to file a claim. Your insurer can provide details about your policy and let you know what coverage you have related to the accident.
Tips for Driving Safely on Icy Roads
It can be difficult to drive on icy roads. In particular, black ice, which occurs when the ice melts and then refreezes, can be hard to spot. If you hit a patch of black ice, the vehicle may struggle to maintain traction on the roadway, resulting in an accident.
Of course, it’s always better to stay home and off the roads during a particularly brutal Chicago snowstorm. If you have to drive, however, there are precautions you can take to travel safely in winter weather. Here are some tips for driving safely in all conditions:
- Winterize your car. Before the bad weather even hits, winterize your car so you’re prepared for the snow and ice. This process may involve checking your tires, using windshield fluid with antifreeze, and clearing off your headlights.
- Maintain a buffer. It can be harder to stop quickly on icy roads, so maintain a buffer between your car and other vehicles ahead of you. That way, if you do slide on the ice, the car has more time to regain its traction.
- Go slowly. When venturing out in bad weather, make sure to drive slowly. At lower speeds, you can be more alert for patches of ice so you can avoid sliding.
- Drive during daylight. It’s harder to see black ice when it’s dark outside. If possible, drive in the daylight so you have a better chance of noticing ice on the roadways.
Get a Quote for Low-Cost Car Insurance in Illinois
During an Illinois winter, make sure you have the right car insurance to protect yourself if you’re involved in an accident related to snow or ice. If it’s time to reconsider your policy, call our insurance experts at American Auto Insurance. We can work with you to determine the coverage you need for every season. With rates starting as low as $14 per month, we offer some of the cheapest insurance prices in Illinois. Contact us today for a free quote or give us a call at 773-286-3500.