Auto insurance is at its heart financial protection. You purchase insurance in order to prevent paying thousands of dollars in the event of a collision or other loss. Many different types of insurance are available, covering almost every conceivable means of loss or damage to your vehicle as well as others to which you may cause damage. Very few drivers need to purchase every single type of insurance, so it is helpful to understand each type in order to decide which ones you require.
Property damage insurance is sometimes known as liability insurance. This product is designed to cover damages that you may do to someone else’s vehicle. Your state sets a minimum amount of this insurance that you must carry but the state requirement is often quite low. If the damage you cause exceeds the limits of your insurance you could be sued for the difference. It is therefore wise to purchase as much property damage insurance as you can afford.
Personal injury insurance is usually required by law, though the required amount may vary by state. This insurance pays a portion of your medical bills (generally 80 percent) and a portion of your lost wages (usually 60 percent) if you are injured in an accident. Personal injury protection often includes a small death benefit as well. This insurance may cover your relatives or household members or even everyone in the car, depending on your insurance company’s policies and state mandates.
Bodily injury insurance is extremely important even though it is not required by many jurisdictions. If you are at fault for an accident that injures someone beyond the limits of his personal injury coverage, bodily injury insurance will cover the difference. Otherwise you could be sued for medical expenses.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
If you are injured beyond the limits of your personal injury protection in an accident caused by someone who does not carry bodily injury insurance, what are your options? You could certainly sue him and likely win your case. However lawsuits are time consuming and expensive, and if he does not have the money to pay you might be stuck with an uncollectible judgment against him. Instead, your Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage could cover your injuries. This protection is reasonably priced and will ensure that you are paid in a timely manner. Purchase this coverage if you can.
Collision insurance will reimburse you for damages to your vehicle if you are at fault. Collision coverage will pay up to the actual cash value of the vehicle less your deductible. If your car is financed you may be required to carry collision insurance. However the premiums are high and this product is not recommended for older low value vehicles.
Comprehensive insurance will pay for damage or loss to your vehicle from both theft and acts of God. Comprehensive coverage will pay up to the actual cash value of the vehicle less your deductible. This insurance is usually required if your car is financed but not recommended for older cars with a low cash value.
Many other options are also available, covering everything from medical payments beyond your personal injury coverage to a rental car while yours is being repaired. Most of these options are good to have if you can afford them but not necessary if you can’t. Always speak with your insurance agent if you have any questions or concerns regarding your coverage options.