If you are like any of the thousands of drivers on the road every day, then it is likely that you or someone in your household has obtained car insurance to both satisfy the legal liability requirements of the state where you live as well as to protect your vehicle, the occupants, and other peoples autos and property.
What Does Car Insurance Cover?
- Property – damage to or theft of vehicles.
- Liability – the policyholders liability, or legal obligation for the property or bodily injury of others when the driver is at fault.
- Injury – the medical treatment, long term care, loss of wages, or even funeral expenses of anyone who is injured in an accident.
Bodily Injury Liability: This type of car insurance coverage protects the policy holder as well as any other drivers listed on the policy by covering medical costs for injuries caused to other motorists. Oftentimes, people will increase the minimum coverage to protect their other assets in the event that an injured motorist sues for additional damages because your automobile insurance will pay up to the limits on the policy – you are out of pocket for expenses that exceed those limits.
Medical Payments or Personal Injury Protection: Should injury to the policy holder or any other occupants of the insured vehicle occur in an accident, this portion of the auto insurance policy will cover the medical bills, lost wages and funeral costs. This option is also known as PIP (Personal Injury Protection).
Property Damage Liability: Property damage liability is the most common type of coverage option and one which is required by law. It covers damage caused by the policy holder (or anyone permitted to drive the insured vehicle) to another vehicle or other type of property such as signs, fences, telephone poles, buildings, etc.
Collision: This type of coverage offers protection for the policy holders vehicle if damage occurs as a result of an collision with another vehicle, object, or even if your vehicle ends up flipping over. Damages caused by potholes are also covered under collision coverage. Even if the policy holder is at fault, collision insurance will cover the repair for damages minus the deductible amount. If the policyholder is not at fault, the insurance company will attempt to recover the costs paid to its policyholder through the other motorists insurance company and if successful, will also reimburse its policyholders’ paid deductible amount too.
Comprehensive: Comprehensive insurance covers the cost of theft of the vehicle or damages/repairs caused by anything other than another vehicle or object. Damages such as those caused by fires, natural disasters, bombs, vandalism, or collisions with animals such as deer. This option also covers shattered or cracked windshields. Both collision and comprehensive coverage are usually optional however if a car is leased, many times the lender will require this type of coverage in addition to liability.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage: If an accident occurs with an uninsured driver or if the other driver does not have sufficient coverage to pay for the full extent of damages, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage will cover the outstanding expenses. This option also protects the policyholder if involved in a hit and run accident or if hit while a pedestrian.
Gap Insurance: This protects you if your car is totaled and you owe more on the loan or lease than the insurance company pays out. It is usually taken on cars that are 3 years old or less.
Rental Reimbursement: This coverage pays for a rental car if your auto is in the repair shop following a covered comprehensive or collision claim.
Roadside Assistance (Towing & Labor): Much like AAA, this coverage offers a jump start, gas delivery, a flat tire change, even the services of a qualified locksmith of you break down.
What Car Insurance Doesn't Cover
- Personal belongings inside your auto. Do if someone breaks into your car and steals your laptop – the window would be covered but the computer would not.
- People who live in the same home as you but are not listed on the policy. A basic car insurance policy generally covers you and other people who don’t live with you and who have permission to occasionally use your vehicles. Members of your household must be listed on your policy to have coverage.
- The balance of your car loan is your vehicle is totaled. See gap insurance above.
How Much Does Car Insurance Cost?
- Geographical location – The more dangerous your location is the higher premiums you will pay as there is a higher probability for claims. If you live in a highly populated urban area accidents and insurance claims happen more often and rate are higher.
- Age – Typically drivers under 25 pay more because statistically shown to be inexperienced behind the wheel, easily distracted and to crash more often. They are on of the riskiest category of drivers to insure.
- Gender – Data shows males are more likely to crash, hence men’s premiums are higher.
- Marital status – Married people have been found to be less of a risk to insurers than singles, including divorced or widowed drivers.
- Years of driving experience – Inexperienced drivers pose more risk. That is why under 25 have some of the highest rates.
- Driving record – Drivers with a clean driving record qualify for better rates and can be eligible for a safe driver discount.
- Claims history – More claims = more premium. Insurers actually count frequency (how many claims in a time frame) more than severity (how large the claim was).
- Credit history – The better credit you have, the lower your rates. Most insurers look at credit and weight it heavily.
- Previous insurance coverage – Continual auto insurance history (or at least for the last 6 months) can help get you a better rate.
- Vehicle type – Purchase price, theft rate, cost of repairs, accident rate and safety tests weigh heavily in car insurance cost.
- Vehicle use – A vehicle used to commute work poses more of a risk than the car you only take out of the garage on the weekends.
- Miles driven annually – The less you drive, the less risk you have of being in an accident.
- Coverages – The more coverage you choose with higher limits, the more it will cost you since the insurer is taking on additional risk.
- Deductibles – The deductible is your out of pocket cost before your policy kick in. Lower deductible = higher premium, and higher deductible = lower premium.
And car insurance premiums after a DUI/DWI will always cost more.
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Different States Car Insurance
If you are looking for state specific Car Insurance quotes, costs and information: