A new year is a time for self-reflection and positive changes. While many do not consider their insurance policies as something that they could change to contribute to a better 2014, our team here at the Fisher Widmann Flick Insurance Agency encourages you to think otherwise this year.

Just one example of something you could change for the better in 2014 might be your car insurance – particularly your liability coverage. Auto insurance liability coverage is often put to the test during the winter, when ice, snow and slush turn roads into obstacle courses. In fact, while statistics show that August is overall the most dangerous time of year to drive, the winter months are still incredibly dangerous, as both nonfatal-injury and property-damage-only car crashes increase significantly when it snows, according to the American Journal of Public Health.

So just how likely is it that your area might experience dangerous road conditions due to the weather, and what sorts of risks might you face when driving in the winter? Well, consider these statistics from the Federal Highway Administration:

-Over 70 percent of the nations roads are located in snowy regions, which receive more than five inches (or 13 cm) average snowfall annually. Nearly 70 percent of the U.S. population lives in these snowy regions.

-Snow and ice reduce pavement friction and vehicle maneuverability, causing slower speeds, reduced roadway capacity, and increased crash risk. Average arterial speeds decline by 30 to 40 percent on snowy or slushy pavement. Freeway speeds are reduced by 3 to 13 percent in light snow and by 5 to 40 percent in heavy snow. Heavy snow and sleet can also reduce visibility. Lanes and roads are obstructed by snow accumulation, which reduces capacity and increases travel time delay.

-Each year, 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet.

Statistics like those are exactly why we’re encouraging everyone to take the time this month to complete one simple New Year’s resolution: check and ensure that your auto insurance offers more than basic liability coverage.

 Liability car insurance, which covers what happens to the other driver’s vehicle in a crash where you are at fault, is so important that it’s required in most states. Typically, liability insurance is most often offered in two categories: bodily injury liability (which assists with medical bills and lost wages in an accident) and property damage liability (which offers help when paying for damage a property sustains during an accident).

Not all auto liability coverage is created equally, though. Often, liability policies don’t even cover other major expenses that can be incurred during an accident. For example, basic liability coverage rarely offers damage coverage for your own vehicle – and only covers damage to the other car! It also often does not cover damage caused to you or your possessions by an uninsured driver, or comprehensive coverage of medical expenses incurred as a result of an automotive accident; instead, it offers a fixed amount of money that may or may not be enough to keep you from paying a lot out of pocket.

In short: if you get into a serious accident with basic liability coverage, you may find yourself paying for some or even all of the major expenses and claims that result from that accident all by yourself – and that is always more expensive than the cost of comprehensive insurance plans. That’s why we don’t believe that it’s worth the risk of owning basic liability auto insurance. After all, that car you bought was an investment. Surely it – and you – deserves the best protection possible, especially during this dangerous season.

This year, make it your goal to supplement or even replace your basic liability policy with comprehensive coverage that goes beyond the state’s minimum requirements. If you’re not sure where to get started, don’t fret: our staff is ready to help you evaluate your policy options to ensure that what you select offers adequate coverage that will truly protect you should you experience troubles on the road. We offer personalized assistance and have numerous local contacts across the state ready to help you at a moment’s notice. We also have connections with 15 major insurance companies, including our newest partner, Safeco Insurance, a Liberty Mutual-owned company that will work with our team to ensure that your liability insurance goes beyond the basics.

Remember, whether you’re in Johnstown or any other area in central Pennsylvania, and whether you need an entirely new policy or to update the one you already have, we’re here to help you. Our representatives in Blaire County, Cambria County, Somerset, Latrobe, or in any other nearby counties are all ready to work with you so that you can continue driving with peace of mind during this wonderful, but risky, time of the year.

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