According to AAA, 38.9 million people will hit the roads this weekend between November 27 and December 1. That means nearly 39 million people merging onto freeways, changing lanes, looking for their exits, breaking up sibling spats in the backseat, and trying to make sure the stuffing and gravy don’t end up all over the freshly cleaned floor mats. The potential for chaos is extraordinary over Thanksgiving weekend, and if you don’t have car insurance, you’re nuttier than a pecan pie. Honestly.

There are 3 main types of car insurance coverage: vehicle, liability, and medical. Let’s take a look at how each of them can help protect you from any number of Thanksgiving mishaps.

Coverages that protect your vehicle

At its most basic, your car insurance is designed to repair or replace your vehicle should the unexpected (and unfortunate) occur.

  • Collision coverage will help either repair damage or replace damaged parts of your car if you happen to get in an accident with any one of those 38.9 million other drivers on the road this weekend.
  • Comprehensive coverage, on the other hand, will help pay for repairs if your car’s damaged by a natural disaster, vandalism, theft, fire, or a falling tree branch. If you get caught in a freak hailstorm on the way to grandma’s house, for example, comprehensive will help smooth out those dents.
  • Emergency roadside service (ERS) coverage (called towing and labor coverage in some states) helps pay for roadside services if a breakdown leaves you stranded on the side of the road. Instead of spending Thanksgiving Day in the ditch, ERS coverage helps you get back on the road and on your way to pumpkin pie.

Coverages that protect your passengers

In addition to fixing your car after a covered accident, your car insurance can help pay to “fix” you and your passengers.

  • Medical payments coverage is designed to pay for the medical care of you and your passengers after an accident. Let’s say you and your 3 best friends get into a fender bender on your way home from a crazed Black Friday excursion to the mall. If anyone’s injured (hopefully not), medical payments coverage could help cover their expenses.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage can help cover medical expenses for you and your passengers after an accident, regardless of fault. Offered (and sometimes required) in no-fault states, PIP coverage could help you out even if you weren’t to blame for the Black Friday fender bender.

Coverages that protect your bank account

As a whole, your car insurance is intended to help protect you from the expense involved with recovering from an accident. Liability coverage is no exception and generally breaks down into 2 main categories: bodily injury and property damage.

  • Bodily injury (BI) liability coverage can help pay accident-related medical expenses for other drivers and passengers. So, if you cause a 3-car pileup rushing to the store for cranberry sauce, BI can cover the drivers and passengers in the other 2 cars. It can also help pay your legal defense fees if the injured party decides to sue for further damages. (But let’s hope that never happens.)
  • Property damage (PD) liability coverage can help pay for other drivers’ and property owners’ expenses after you’re found at fault in an accident. If, say, your teenage daughter accidentally backs over the neighbor’s lighted turkey lawn decorations, your PD coverage will kick in to help replace them. Give thanks!

We hope you have no use for any of these coverages over Thanksgiving weekend … or ever. But, if you do, you’ll likely find that they’re more than worth the investment and can make a stressful time more bearable by protecting you from sometimes-exorbitant expenses. And keep in mind that car insurance varies greatly by state, so make sure you get the specifics about car insurance in your state.

Most importantly, please drive safely this weekend. And don’t forget the cranberry sauce.

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about Heidi

Heidi brings 11 years’ experience to her role as Esurance’s copywriting manager. Writer, editor, and all around wordsy, she was content when content wasn’t cool. Also, she likes old-school country.