When it comes to issues with your auto insurance, knowledge is your best weapon against the panic moment. From the unavoidable to simple forgetfulness, life happens. When you know what to expect, those little moments can be panic free.

You've Been Involved In A Hit And Run Accident

You come out of the grocery store with your weekly haul and when you get to your car the driver's side door is smashed in. No one told you. No one is waiting to talk to you. Not even a note on your windshield. You're now a victim of a hit and run.

The first, and obvious, question is – who hit your car? Treat this like a crime scene for a moment. Look around you and see if you can see an obvious perpetrator leaving the scene. If you do, take down that license plate number, make and model of the car.

Never attempt to follow them. That can lead to a dangerous situation that you do not need.

Next, check to see if there is anyone around who may have seen what happened. Ask people if they saw anything - if they did, be sure to get their contact information. You may get lucky.

Now it's time to call the police. Having them show up and verify your situation. This will help your case with your insurance company. While you wait for them, take pictures of everything in the area as well as the damage on your car. This can be crucial in dealing with the police and, more importantly, your insurance company.

Once you've spoken with them, call your insurance company and file a claim. The sooner you do this, the smoother the process will be. If the perpetrator is caught, be prepared to go to court if need be and bring any witnesses to testify on your behalf.

Being the victim of a hit and run stinks, but having a good insurance company that you can talk to can make a big difference.

You Let Your Coverage Lapse

Life is busy and bills keep coming in. Perhaps things got a little hairy for you or you simply forgot to pay your auto insurance premium. Then, one day you get that letter in the mail from you insurance company. You auto insurance has lapsed and you're no longer covered. Now what? If you're worried that this is a serious issue . . . you're right. A lapse in coverage is a black mark on your insurance history and can cause higher premiums in the future. Insurance companies are required to report your starting and ending dates, so Uncle Sam knows if you have a lapse in coverage even if you don't get pulled over during that time. So, what do you do?

The first thing to know is that you should not drive without insurance. Period. If anything should happen, you could be responsible for any or all damages out of pocket. You may receive a hefty fine as well. And all insurance companies will consider you a higher risk, making your premiums higher.

What To Do

Call your insurance company and try to get your insurance reinstated immediately. The sooner the better.

If you can't afford the policy you had, go for the minimum required insurance for the time being. If they won't play nice, move on to a new insurer. It may not be pleasant and your new rates may not be as good as the old ones, but at this point any insurance is better than none.

Avoiding Another Lapse

So how do you avoid this? Pay your premiums on time and don't take those warnings too lightly. If you can use an auto-pay system, that's advisable. You may even get a discount for using it.

If you're switching insurance companies, make sure that your new plan's starting date is in effect before you let the old plan expire.

Avoid any lapse in your auto coverage if you can help it. If something does go wrong, all you can do is try to minimize that gap. Going any length of time without coverage is just too big of a gamble for you and your family.

You Have a Birthday

Birthdays are great! Here are the top three that affect your car insurance.

16 Years Old

Yea! Congratulations and welcome to the world of drivers. However, when it comes to insurance, you just joined the most expensive group. Due to teen tendencies for speeding, tailgating and not wearing their seat belts, auto insurance premiums tend to be quite high. However, look into discounts. Good students or bundling coverage may help you stomach a second piece of that birthday cake.

25 Years Old

Welcome to the world of adults. Yes, to insurance agencies you're a real, responsible adult at 25, not 18. This birthday is a great one. If you did well up to this point, you'll start to see your premium rates fall significantly. However, this is partly due to the number of years behind the wheel rather than a magical age. If you get your license at 20, it may be your 30th birthday that will help out. Your rates may continue to improve's as you get older as well. (to a point). As always, look for discounts to maximize your benefits.

70 years old

Unfortunately, older driver's pose a bigger risk on the road. Evidence suggests that this is because of things like poor eyesight or slower reaction times. Insurance companies charge premiums accordingly. Ways to combat this include taking a driving refresher course and letting your company know how few miles you actually drive.

Your driving record is the biggest factor in your insurance rates at any age. Different age groups do get special attention due to accident statistics, but even when you're in a high-risk group, a proactive approach can help you keep those premiums to a minimum.

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