Date: December 20, 2013
For more information contact: J.P. Wieske, Public Information Officer, (608) 266-2493 or jp.wieske@wisconsin.gov

Winter Weather? Check Your Insurance and the Roads

Madison, WI—Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel urges drivers to be careful during the winter months.

"The most important thing you can do for this festive season is to keep you and your family safe. There were 12,335 auto accidents in the 2012 winter months," said Nickel. "The causes of the accidents were a combination of winter weather and road conditions. Wisconsin's roads are often covered with ice, snow or slush this time of year, and that can cause vehicles to slide."

Road hazards can include icy roads and limited visibility during snowstorms. Drivers should also be on the lookout for animals, such as deer running across the road, and other drivers. When the snow piles up, cars become sliding targets and ditches can become magnets. Black ice is an especially dangerous road hazard that can occur anywhere.

Commissioner Nickel offered these tips: "You should always maintain a safe distance between your car and the car in front of you. Use care and drive slow enough for conditions. If conditions are threatening, consider staying home and waiting for better road conditions. If you must go out, be prepared."

Commissioner Nickel suggests that your vehicle should be equipped with an emergency road kit, warm clothes, blankets, and a fully charged cell phone.

This is also a great time to review your automobile insurance policy for any limitations in your coverage. For example, consumers who carry collision auto insurance without comprehensive coverage are not covered in the event of damage to vehicles as a result of hail, wind or flooding. Additionally, make sure your coverage is adequate for your insurance needs.

"It's very important to know what your insurance policy covers," said Nickel. "Anyone having trouble understanding their policy or with questions about what is covered should call their agent."

If you are in an automobile accident, remember the following tips:

  • Call the police.
  • Obtain information such as the names, addresses, telephone numbers and license numbers of all persons involved in the accident, as well as all witnesses.
  • Record the time, date, location, road conditions, make and year of the vehicles involved, insurance information, apparent damage and injuries and your version of what happened.
  • Call your insurance agent. Make sure to have your policy number and other relevant information on hand. Also be sure you cooperate fully with the insurance company and ask your agent what documents, forms and data you'll need to file a claim.
  • Take notes each time you talk to your insurance company, agent, lawyers, police or anyone else involved in the situation. Write down dates, times, names and what you talked about, as well as any decisions or promises made.
  • Save any receipts and bills, including those from a car rental or hotel room if the automobile accident happens outside of your town.

If you are unhappy with your insurance company's decision, you may file a complaint with the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance.

To avoid accidents, make sure you plan your travels and check the latest weather reports to avoid any storms. You can find out the latest road conditions by going to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Web site at www.511wi.gov or by calling 511.

OCI publications such as "Consumer's Guide to Auto Insurance," "Consumer's Guide to Homeowner's Insurance," "Buying a Home and Your Insurance Needs," and "Settling Property Insurance Claims," can be ordered free from the agency by writing to OCI Publications, P.O. Box 7873, Madison, WI 53707-7873, calling 800-236-8517, or visiting the OCI Web site at oci.wi.gov.


Created by the Legislature in 1871, Wisconsin's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) was vested with broad powers to ensure that the insurance industry responsibly and adequately met the insurance needs of Wisconsin citizens. Today, OCI's mission is to lead the way in informing and protecting the public and responding to its insurance needs.