How to determine what kind of auto coverage you need - Part 1
This day in age buying insurance is definitely a lengthy process. Insurance policies can be difficult to understand, so many of us just go with our agent's word. Hopefully I can clear the confusion up for you, so that next time you shop for insurance you'll have a much better understanding of what you're looking for.
The nice thing about shopping for insurance is that everyone has the same product, you just have to find the best rate (and with a reputable company). For instance, last time I shopped for car insurance, I found that some of the larger companies wanted TWICE as much as the company I eventually chose. This confused me, as it is usually the "big guys" who offer the lowest price.
So, the first part of this article is going to help you determine what type(s) of coverage you need, and part 2 will give you the tools to shop for the best price.
What type(s) of coverage do I need?
Most of us are familiar with the 2 basic types of auto insurance: liability insurance, which only covers the other person, and full (collision and comprehensive), which covers both of you.
There are, however, a few more options to look at before you completely come to a decision.
Medical payments - Covers YOUR medical payments in the event of an injury while driving your car, a friend's car, or while being a pedestrian. Medical coverage even kicks in if the accident is found to be the other driver's fault, in which case your insurance company may choose to seek reimbursement from the other driver's insurance company.
PIP (Personal injury protection) - This is an addition to medical coverage that is required in some states. If you already have medical coverage, you should consult with your provider to see if you need any additional personal injury coverage on your vehicle. Some of the additional features of PIP include payments for lost wages and help with child care.
To see a great example of what states require what kind of coverage, go here
Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage - The sole purpose of this coverage is to protect you if the other driver has NO, or very little, insurance. This is also required in some states. Also, in some instances, this kind of coverage can be applied to your property, so you might ask your provider about that.
Rental reimbursement - This will cover your rental car expenses in the event your car is damaged or stolen. Make sure to know exactly how long they will cover a rental car, and how much they will pay per day.
Towing / labor - Covers the expenses incured when hiring a towing company to haul your car in the event you break down. Also be to sure to inquire about how much they will cover.
Gap Coverage - This will cover the difference between how much you owe on the car and how much you've paid, in the event you total it in an accident. Be sure to get enough to cover your vehicle!
So now you know a little more about what kind of products are being offered by the insurance companies. Next we will look at what you need.
Liability or Full coverage?
I am sure you've asked yourself this question. The answer is actually simpler to come to than you may think.
First, what kind of car do you drive?
If your car is worth less than 00, you may end up paying that amount off (multiple times) with full coverage.
The use of full coverage is only economical if you are getting the better deal. In general, the ONLY time you get full coverage is if the car is brand new, or leased.
Some special circumstances may occur, however, try to factor how much you will spend per year by going up to full coverage, and then factor in how much the retail value of the car is. The answer usually finds itself :).
What are my limits?
Most states have different "minimum limits", or limits that are required.
Here is a table of those minimums
It is best to consult what the minimums are before committing, so you don't spend more than is neccessary.
Your limit is going to be explained by 3 numbers, usually looking like this: 20/40/10
The first number is the amount of coverage for bodily injury per person in an accident (,000).
The second number is the amount of coverage for bodily injury per accident (,000)
The third number is the amount of coverage for property damage per accident (,000)
As you can see, for someone with liability only, ,000 to cover the other car may be too low in many states with above average cars. That is why there are legal limits.
Conclusion of Part 1
I hope you have a better understanding of what kind of insurance coverages are available, and what they are for. In the next part I will discuss how to shop for the best rates!
About the Author: Submitted by: Darneese Overson
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