Vehicle Insurance is something one cannot hide from and shopping for auto insurance deals is something everybody has resorted to at least once ever since you started driving. With compulsory insurance cover, announced in most of the states in the US, vehicle insurance can either just be a liability or a combination of more coverages to get greater security.
Before you finalize your auto insurance policy, it is essential to know the different coverage options that are available. Accordingly select what works for you and then decide
Liability This coverage is a legal necessity in most States. Every State has a pre-defined minimum liability that has to be kept on your vehicle insurance policy. However it is usually advisable to keep liability amounts high as you do not want to fall short and use your personal assets to reimburse the other party in case you are found at fault in an accident. Liability coverage usually includes:
In some jurisdictions, Liability coverage is available either as a combined single limit policy, or as a split limit policy; which is further classified into maximum payment per person and a maximum payment per accident, for bodily injury and property damage due to collision.
Collision This covers damages caused to a car due to a collision, in terms of either repair or by reimbursement of the present blue book value of the vehicle, if the vehicle is totaled. You need to pay the agreed upon deductible first in order to claim collision coverage.
Comprehensive handles damage to your vehicle in all situations other than the ones covered under collision; for example, damage due to fire, theft, riot, hailstorm etc. A deductible needs to be paid when claiming under this kind of coverage.
Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage - In every state there are drivers who operate their vehicles on the road without sufficient liability coverage or completely uninsured. This means incase you get into an accident where the uninsured/underinsured driver is at fault, you cannot have access to adequate funds to help reimburse you for damages. Uninsured/underinsured coverage takes care of this situation, where you can tap your own insurance company to settle your bills.
Personal Injury Protection (No-Fault) This coverage applies for the cost of medical treatment due to an auto accident regardless of who is at fault in an accident. Quite a few states make PIP mandatory when you buy vehicle insurance coverage.
GAP Insurance Typically used when you take a car on lease. This coverage is used to fill in any gaps in payment incase your car gets totaled before you have managed to pay it off entirely.
Umbrella Insurance - One of the most important and least known coverages, an umbrella usually takes over once the upper limits of your liability coverages have been reached. It is usually bought to safeguard your personal assets against lawsuits and claims involving huge sums of money, which exceed your liability amounts.
Other Supplemental Coverages towing and labor, car rentals, antique and classic car insurance, etc.
Coming to comparing rates for auto insurance quotes, it is something we all tend to do to get the best deal for ourselves, especially when there are milestone changes in life like retirement, adding a teenaged child to your policy, buying a new vehicle, or even having a traffic violation on record. Your age, state laws, car model, climatic conditions where you reside, driving and credit record, are some of the common factors taken into consideration while deciding your rate, however each company has different rating systems for these and so the vehicle insurance quotes vary. Since all these factors significantly impact the cost of car insurance, you need to take the time out to research which companies can give you affordable rates. It is always good to do apples to apples comparison between the quotes provided by different companies, at the same time also keep in mind the claim history of the companies you are comparing.
Discount options are other factors affecting your choices for vehicle insurance quotes. For example, a senior driving course can reduce your insurance rates, while if you are over 50 years of age, you could even get a credit of about 5% off your rates for 3 years. Some companies offer various lucrative deals for people over 50. Senior organizations like AAA and AARP tie-up with insurance companies to get their members the best benefits and discount auto insurance online.
Also, do not overlook additional services offered in the package. Good companies offer a host of facilities to attract customers like cashless facility, quick claim mechanism, dedicated helpline for emergencies, no claim bonus, insurance transfer etc. Its crucial to look for companies with a strong claim handling history, good customer service, a strong dealer network, nation-wide coverage and reliable financial reputation. Look for companies who also make your life easier especially during turbulent times. You need a provider who creates minimum hassles during events, when you actually need cooperation.
At the end of the day, everybody has different requirements from their vehicle insurance, so it is important to consider what works for your unique circumstances and tailor your policy accordingly. This might not happen exactly right the first time round, however with time and practice you should be able to strike the right bargain.
Christoper Smith is a retired personal finance consultant, interested in adventure living. He loves to explore new places, people and cultures with his wife. He writes regularly during his travels; mostly on the road, from his trailer. His interest lies in the fields of finance and insurance [home, life and auto insurance] – his favorite subjects from the past.
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