A good auto insurance policy is your best protection against financial uncertainty following an accident. Choose wisely!
The law says that you must carry liability auto insurance. Without it, you risk getting yourself into trouble in more ways than one.
The problems that most people have with selecting an insurance company (and policy) usually do not present themselves until after you’ve been involved in an accident. It’s at this point that you may find out you have no rental coverage, no personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, any other not-so-nice surprises.
For most drivers, the state minimum insurance is inadequate. You’ll want to make sure you have coverage that will replace your car or repair it in the event that it is damaged. This means collision insurance at the least and comprehensive insurance if you want real coverage you can count on. Before selecting your policy, consider the following:
It’s not all about the value of your car.
In some cases, people who have inexpensive or older vehicles mistakenly believe that they don’t really need that much coverage. The problem with this is that it assumes that anyone you hit will also have an inexpensive vehicle. According to the law, YOU are liable for any related damages beyond your insurance policy limits.
Even though your car may not be worth much, you can still do a tremendous amount of damage to another vehicle with your car, so count on hitting someone at some point and on being liable for a lot of damages.
If you happen to be a younger driver, you’re going to be facing a situation where insurance companies are generally going to charge you as much as they possibly can. It’s not fair; you may be a very good driver and simply end up being saddled with higher charges because of your age.
If you’re a good driver, make these companies compete for your business. You’re still likely going to end up paying more than an older driver would, but even though this is the case, there’s no reason that you should let an insurance company take you for a ride simply because you’re young.
Your own car may not be covered.
If you only have liability coverage (and not collision coverage), your policy will not cover any damage to your vehicle. There are plenty of people out there who think that if they get in a really bad wreck and their car is completely destroyed, that the insurance company will just total it out and send a check. This is only true if they have collision insurance, or if the driver who caused the accident has enough insurance to cover the damages.
In many cases, insurance companies only offer discounted rates for the state minimum for liability. There are some important things to remember about liability insurance, particularly at the state minimum levels:
- It doesn’t cover much damage
- It doesn’t protect you from uninsured drivers
- It doesn’t protect you if your car is stolen or vandalized
- It doesn’t provide rental coverage
If you can afford it, make sure you have uninsured motorist coverage which will cover injuries and damage to your car in the case of a hit and run, or in case you’re in an accident with an uninsured (or under-insured) driver.
Too high on rates.
Discount insurance policies are oftentimes advertised as being great values. Insurance companies aren’t naive though. They’re not going to insure someone with accidents on their record at low rates and give them substantial coverage. You may pay much more if you buy insurance from a regular company, but your coverage will usually be much better. Additionally, discount insurance plans often have incredibly high deductibles. Can you afford a $1,000 deductible if you were to get into an accident today?
Sometimes, an insurance company will give you discounts if you have a certain type of job. Ask if they give a discount for people in your employment sector.
How much do you drive?
If you travel extensively, you’ll want to make sure that you’re adequately covered for wrecks. The more you drive, the greater the chances that you’ll be in a wreck. This is just math. If you work at home and don’t commute, you might want to consider dropping your coverage levels a bit since you’re not on the road that often.
Maybe your insurance will cover the cost of repairs, but it may not cover the costs of towing your vehicle to the garage to get those repairs. Remember to look for roadside assistance coverage. Some companies offer good policies for roadside assistance, and some people choose to get it separately from a company such as AAA.
Read about different insurance companies (including reviews) before you make any decisions! The cheapest companies out there sometimes don’t offer much to their clients, and while you may love those low rates for a while, you may quickly change your tune when it comes to filing a claim.
If you’re in a wreck.
Contact a local car accident lawyer if you’re in a wreck, and try to do so before you contact your insurance company. This is the best way to make sure you don’t harm your ability to file a claim, and that you’re given the best chance at a fair recovery.