Car insurance is one of the biggest parts of your household operating budget. And, depending on the state in which you live, it could be a much smaller or much, much larger piece of your overall budget than people in other neighboring states.
But just how much car insurance should you actually buy? Any competent insurance agent worth their weight will tell you that you should get as much insurance as you can afford.
While this may appear to be a good rule to go by, it’s not a very helpful rule if that’s your question. To get the maximum in coverage might be sound logic but it doesn’t help you make an educated decision.
There are a few things that need careful thought in order to make a good, sound decision.
First, what is the state required minimum coverage for car insurance where you live?
Second, just what does that minimum cover?
Third, what other coverages are available and can you actually afford it?
And fourthly, ask yourself :just what are you protecting?
What do the minimums cover?
Now that you know what your area requires, just what are you actually covered for once you purchase the minimum?
Using the coverage definitions below, sek out the kinds of insurance coverage required, and see what your state or area determines is the accepted minimum.
Bodily Injury Liability
Bodily Injury Liability covers other people’s bodily injuries or death if or when you are held responsible.
Bodily Injury Liability also provides for legal defense if another party in the accident should happen to file a lawsuit against you.
Claims for bodily injury may be for such incidentals as medical bills, loss of income, or pain and suffering. In the event of a serious accident, you want enough insurance to cover a judgment against you in a lawsuit, without jeopardizing your personal holdings.
The thing to remember about Bodily Injury Liability is that it covers injury to people, not your vehicle. So, in theory, it’s a good idea to have the same level of coverage for all of your cars.
Bodily Injury Liability does NOT cover you or other people on your policy. Coverage is limited to the terms and conditions contained in the policy.
Comprehensive Physical Damage Coverage
Comprehensive Physical Damage covers your vehicle, and sometimes other vehicles you may be driving for losses resulting from incidents OTHER than collision.
For example, comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car if it is stolen, or damaged by flood, fire, or animals. Comprehensive also pays to fix your vehicle less the deductible you choose.
Tip: to keep your insurance premiums low, try to select as high a deductible as you feel comfortable paying out of pocket. Coverage is limited to the terms and conditions contained in the policy.
Collision Coverage covers the damages to your car when your car hits, or is hit by, another vehicle, or other object. Collision Coverage pays to fix your vehicle less the deductible you choose.
To keep your premiums low, select as large a deductible as you feel comfortable paying out of pocket. For older cars, consider dropping this coverage, since coverage is normally limited to the cash value of your car. Coverage is limited to the terms and conditions contained in the policy.
The Medical Payments portion of yor policy covers medical expenses to you and your passengers injured in an accident. There may also be coverage if as a pedestrian a vehicle injures you. With the Medical Payments portion, it does NOT matter who is at fault. Coverages are limited to terms and conditions contained in the policy.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured Motorist Coverage covers bodily injuries to you and your passengers when the other person has no insurance or not enough insurance in a crash that is not your fault.
In some states, there is also uninsured motorist coverage for damage to your vehicle. Given the large number of uninsured motorists, this is very important coverage to have, even in states with no-fault insurance. Coverage is limited to the terms and conditions contained in the policy
Personal Injury Protection Coverage
Personal Injury Protection Coverage covers pre-determined amounts within the policy’s specified limits, including the medical, hospital and memorial expenses of the insured, others in his vehicle and pedestrians struck by him.
The basic coverage for the insured’s own injuries on a first-party basis, without regard to fault. It is only available in certain states.
Property Damage Liability
Property Damage Liability covers you if your car damages someone else’s property. Usually it is the other car ibn a two car accident, but it could be a fence, a house or any other property damaged.
Property Damage Liability also provides you with legal defense if another party files a lawsuit against you. It is always a good idea to purchase enough of this insurance to cover the amount of damage your car might do to another vehicle or object. Coverage is limited to the terms and conditions contained in the policy.
Rental Car Reimbursement
Rental Car Reimbursement covers renting a car if your car isn’t drivable after the accident, or the costs of car rentals while your car is being repaired.
What other insurance is available, and can you afford it?
Did you come across a particular coverage and say, “I need that but it isn’t required,” when you were reviewing the coverage definitions?
Think again. Because chances are, you did need it.
Can your budget afford the additional expense of these protections? The question may very well be secondary to this one; can you afford NOT to have these additional protections?
What are you protecting?
Consider that question above all others. Because not having enough car insurance can be the difference between financial stability and an unprepared, unplanned, split-second disaster.