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November 30, 2007

Auto insurance basics




Auto insurance is a contract that protects your financial security in case of an accident. Although it is not mandated by federal law, the purchase of auto insurance is usually a requirement in most states; every state (with the exception of New Hampshire and Wisconsin) have minimum insurance laws.

These two states, instead of having insurance requirements, have mandated financial responsibility laws, so that the owner of a car is required to show that he has sufficient funds to pay any necessary claims. If said owner cannot produce proof of satisfactory assets, then he must buy an auto insurance policy. Regardless of the law, having good auto insurance is practical for the driver who wishes to avoid lawsuits or immense repair bills.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), a basic auto insurance policy is comprised of six basic types of coverage. While some of these types of coverage are required by state law, some are considered optional. These are:

1. Bodily injury liability
2. Property damage liability
3. Medical payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
4. Collision
5. Comprehensive
6. Uninsured/Underinsured motorists coverage

Liability coverage is the foundation of any auto insurance policy, and is required in most states. If you are at fault in an accident, your liability insurance will pay for the bodily injury and property damage expenses caused to others in the accident, including your legal bills. Bodily-injury coverage pays for medical bills and lost wages. Property-damage coverage pays for the repair or replacement of things you wrecked other than your own car. The other party may also decide to sue you to collect "pain and suffering" damages.

Liability insurance

Liability insurance (both bodily injury and property damage) is the foundation of most auto insurance policies. Every state that requires auto insurance mandates the purchase of property damage liability, and Florida is the only state that requires auto insurance but does not call for bodily injury liability. If you are at fault in an auto accident, your liability coverage will pay all the expenses, bodily injury, property damage, and any legal bills. The bodily injury coverage would pay for medical bills and lost wages; the property damage coverage would pay for any auto repairs, or replacement. Property damage liability usually repairs damage to other vehicles, but can also cover damages to things such as lamp poles, fences, buildings, or anything else that your car may have struck.

Collision and comprehensive coverages

If you cause an accident, collision coverage will pay to repair your vehicle. You usually can't collect any more than the actual cash value of your car, which is not the same as the car's replacement cost. Collision coverage is normally the most expensive component of auto insurance. By choosing a higher deductible, say $500 or $1,000, you can keep your premium costs down. However, keep in mind that you must pay the amount of your deductible before the insurance company kicks in any money after an accident.

Insurance companies often will "total" your car if the repair costs exceed a certain percentage of the car's worth. The critical damage point varies from company to company, from 55 percent to 90 percent.

Comprehensive coverage will pay for damages to your car that weren't caused by an auto accident: Damages from theft, fire, vandalism, natural disasters, or hitting a deer all qualify. Comprehensive coverage also comes with a deductible and your insurer will only pay as much as the car was worth when it got wrecked.

Because insurance companies normally will not pay you more than your car's book value, it's helpful if you have a rough idea of this amount. Check the Kelley Blue Book or the National Automobile Dealers Association. If your car is worth less than what you're paying for the coverage, you're better off not having it.


Neither collision nor comprehension insurance is required by any of the states, but some lenders, when the owner finances the car, may require the purchase of collision and comprehensive in the loan agreement. Even when it is not required, collision and comprehensive coverage is highly recommended by the insurance industry, so that in the unforeseen event of damage or theft, the owner of the car can avoid heavy bills. Theft of cars is not as unusual as some people may think. In 2004, a car was stolen in the United States every 26 seconds, and a car had a 1 in 190 chance of being stolen.

1 komentar:

Emma said...

I recently came across your blog as one of my friend shared the link with me. I am very much impressed with the content that you have posted about insurance. Its a great help for me as I have learned and gained so much about insurance basics. Thanks.
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