Take extra caution when driving in extreme weather

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 26, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

If your vehicle or property has sustained storm damage, filing your insurance claim right away can help you get served in a timely manner, said Tim Copeland, an agent of Nansemond County Farm Bureau on West Washington Street.

After severe storms in Suffolk and surround communities earlier this year, Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. staff handled about 1,100 auto damage claims in a matter of days, using additional claims adjusters and conveniences such as drive-up claims centers.

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As of Thursday, Copeland said that although he’d witnessed some unsafe driving as he came to his office Thursday morning, people seem to fare better than usual in such snowy weather.

&uot;We haven’t had many accidents reported yet,&uot; he said. &uot;We had three minor fender-benders. Claims are sometimes just as sporadic in a hard, driving rain. Just like this morning, I was doing 40 miles an hour when someone came up behind me in a pickup truck and that person was traveling fast enough to catch up to me before I even saw them. In this type of weather, people need to adjust their driving for conditions. Like black for instance. You can’t see it. And sometimes you can’t see water where its puddle on the highways. As I drove to work this morning, I started into a slight spin when I was traveling at only 20 miles an hour. I was not going too fast so it caught and stopped. I was slowing down to make a turn, but I felt the back end begin to slide out and around. I didn’t hit the brakes, but only eased into the spin and it straightened up on its own. Thankfully, I had three lanes in which to catch myself. Some people were making quick, short moves and they skidded.&uot;

Anyone who does need to make a claim, either with Farm Bureau or any other insurance office, should follow specific procedures to follow up on their claim.

Also, according to Copeland, policyholders should wait until they have spoken with a claims adjuster before seeking repair estimates.

Policyholders also are responsible for protecting any auto or property from further damage. That means taking steps such as covering a broken windshield to keep rain out of a car.

Copeland also noted that one important factor in safe driving in snowy weather is to clean the windshield off before leaving home.

&uot;If you get out on the highway, all that accumulated snow just slides off the car, especially the hood and trunk,&uot; Copeland added. &uot;When all that snow hits the pavement it melts causing more slush and ice on the highways. When that starts to freeze over, then you’ve actually added to the danger of the situation.

It’s best to be a little safer by taking extra precautions.

And, the best thing I could say to any driver is slow down in this type of extreme weather.&uot;

For more information about safe driving, reporting accident claims, or any Farm Bureau program, call Nansemond County Farm Bureau at 934-2321.