You've done this a thousand times. You climb into the race car and the checklist of safety equipment goes on autopilot:

Helmet: CHECK!

Gloves: CHECK!

Belts: CHECK!

Insurance: CHE...

Wait. What?!

Yes, insurance. And not just for the tow vehicle. Insurance for you.

Racing is fun. In many ways it's an addiction. But you can't let that get in the way of being responsible about how you approach the basics of safety. I'm sure you won't skimp on that next helmet purchase, or your rollcage. And you shouldn't skimp when it comes to the additional level of protection for yourself, and your family.

We all know that auto racing is dangerous and accidents do happen, but by taking a few minutes on the telephone, off the racetrack, can greatly increase your safety (and peace of mind) on it.

This isn't the time to be macho. You're not invincible, no matter what you think. And as a word of warning, don't get caught in the mode of thinking that any coverage you may currently have is sufficient; many policies have exclusions specifically for motorsports and you may not even know it. Even more importantly, don't think that any coverage offered by your local track is "good enough" because, trust me, there are some promoters in our sport who are not looking out for your best interests once the back gate fees are handed over.

Insurance is one of those things that we all need, but hope we never use. But if you do have a need to activate a policy, you better believe that you'll be glad you got the best one possible. I've been around racing my entire life and have seen the consequences of drivers getting seriously injured without any additional insurance, and the medical bills and emotional stress has ruined their entire family. But had they taken a few minutes to explore their options prior to buckling into the car, it could have been a completely different story.

One thing that has kept many racers from adding an insurance policy to their safety gear is the longtime stigma that it's expensive. I suspect that once you begin to do a little research, the options are far more affordable than you might think.

"Historically, the costs have been somewhat prohibitive, but today, motorsports policies can actually be quite affordable as the injury and death rate have fallen dramatically thanks to the advances in safety equipment and technology," explains Laura Hauenstein, President of WSIB Motorsports Insurance. With more than two decades in the motorsports insurance business, Hauenstein offers her advice to those thinking about adding a racing-specific policy.

"The first thing I would say is that it's very important to call a company that specializes in motorsports. You simply can't call your `typical' home, life or car insurance broker as it generally won't know which companies have racing exclusions or understand the varying surcharges. But by working with someone connected to the industry you get to use their expertise and can have a policy tailored specifically to your individual needs and type of racing activity."

Hauenstein explained that a knowledgeable agent will take a lot of things into consideration when formulating a motorsports policy; no two cases are alike and this is not a product, like a pair of driving shoes, which can simply be bought "off the shelf."

Actually, it makes sense when you think it through. A Late Model racer on a dirt track will face drastically different situations in his or her racing career than a drag racer, or the guy turning left and right on a road course. It's understandable how each would require a completely different type of policy.