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By now you know that you must carry auto insurance by law, and you may even know how much you need to just squeak by legally without costing you a fortune, but did you know that there are various pieces to an auto insurance policy that help create a comprehensive package to protect you, your passengers, the vehicle and other passengers or property in the event of an accident? And, it can actually be affordable if you shop around? Read on...
Although many states will allow "liability only" policies, by the time you get to the end of this article you'll clearly see why "minimum" auto insurance policies are often a very bad idea!
Liability Coverage: Every state requires owners of registered vehicles to carry specific liability coverage limits in addition to other types of coverage (read more about: your State's minimum auto insurance requirement). A Liability policy covers damages caused by the licensed driver (you or any operator of the insured vehicle that's legally allowed to drive) in the event of an at-fault accident up to the amount listed on your coverage. Don't get it confused, though. Liability will not cover you or your passengers. Often, since some states only require liability coverage there are insurance companies that provide "Liability Only" policies, loosely referred to as "the minimum coverage", but this isn't always the best option for you.
Bodily Injury Liability (BIL): A BIL policy is designed to pay for medical expenses of those injured in an automobile accident in which you (or any operator of your vehicle) was deemed "at fault". BIL policy limits are stated in such ways as "20/50", which would be "$20,000 coverage for one passenger and up to $50,000 total for all passengers".
Property Damage Liability: Property damage? What's that? Why would you possibly need this. Well, a property damage policy pays for damage done to the other car if you're at fault in an accident. In conjunction with BIL, property damage liability is often the "last number" in your stated coverage limits, so a 20/50/25 property damage liability policy will cover up to $25,000 for damages to the other car.
What about you? You need protection too, right?! The policies below help to cover you and your vehicle regardless of fault.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP): What if you or your passengers have medical expenses after an accident? Maybe, some of them even missed work and lost wages. This is where PIP comes in. It's a Personal Injury Protection policy, and it's designed to take care of these expenses including the possibility of lost wages. Sounds like a great idea, right? Did you know many other states believe this a great idea too, and they've made PIP mandatory.
Collision Coverage: Can you guess what "collision" coverage provides? Yep, you got it. Damage to your vehicle caused by an accident (your fault, otherwise their insurance pays for it...assuming they have any!). Imagine driving a $20,000 vehicle with "liability only" coverage and you hit a tree. You can't sue the tree, it was clearly your fault. Collision will fix this, thankfully.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UI/UIM): UI/UIM is required in many states, and for good reason! These policies help cover medical costs if you are hit by someone without insurance, or minimal coverage (remember what we said at the beginning about minimum coverage?). Consider this scenario: A driver hits you carrying no insurance. Unless you have a UI/UIM policy, you're out of luck! If they flee the scene. You're on your own, sure it's a crime, but it happens every day. Carrying UI/UIM is just as important as carrying collision because without it you're going to be paying for vehicle repairs out of pocket!
Comprehensive Coverage: If your vehicle is stolen from a parking lot, or a driveway, or even at an airport. Guess what? Only comprehensive coverage will cover it! It clearly wasn't an auto accident so collision is out. Liability? Not only does that not cover your car, but it needs to be an accident involving your car. What about vandalism? Same thing, comprehensive. Put it this way. If your vehicle is damaged outside of an automobile accident, the only coverage that will help is comprehensive.
TIP: Comprehensive coverage will often be one of the most expensive parts of a policy and where the bulk of the premium lies, so it is in your best interest to get as many insurance quotes as possible as this cost can vary wildly from company to company.
Things To Consider
While you can certainly get away with "the minimum coverage" in many states, it's clearly not the best idea. There are many reasons why minimum insurance coverage will NOT work for you. Do you own a home? If so, without the proper coverage or enough coverage you could be sued and forced to pay damages including personal injury, or property damage that exceeds the amount of coverage you have on your policy! Do you finance or lease your vehicle? If so, you are required by your lien-holder (the bank) to carry what is often referred to as "maximum coverage" on your vehicle, and usually in high amounts to help protect their investment in the case of an accident. Don't you want to protect your investments, too?
Ultimately, the choice is up to you, but you should be aware that skimping on coverage because it's "too expensive" is a myth. Using our service you can compare rates from all major insurance companies in just minutes! Don't like what you see? Try again with a different coverages, or go directly to a major carrier's website like Progressive.com, GEICO.com, StateFarm.com, Allstate.com and more.
Our job is to make finding the best possible coverage at a price you can afford a reality, so give it a shot.