Auto Insurance protects your big investment and provides a way of dealing with the expense of accidents, vandalism or theft. It also secures your financial obligation to the lender that provided you the money to buy your vehicle. When you drive a car you are responsible for the safety of your passengers, other drivers, other people’s property, pedestrians and yourself. Auto Insurance helps ensure your ability to cover the costs of potential damages or injuries.
Auto Insurance includes several types of coverage:
Liability covers damage you cause to other people’s property and injuries to other people.
Collision covers damage to your own vehicle in an accident that is your fault.
Comprehensive (Other than Collision) covers losses other than collision, such as fire damage to your vehicle, break-ins, vandalism or theft, as well as natural disasters (earthquake, hail, hurricane, flood, etc.).
Medical Payments covers medical expenses for injuries to you and your passengers, regardless of who is at fault. It also covers you and members of your household as pedestrians if struck by an automobile.
Uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage protects you if you and/or your passengers are injured in an accident caused by others who carry no liability insurance or insufficient liability insurance.
Towing, Roadside Assistance, and Extra Expense. These are generally provided as add-ons or “endorsements” to your policy.
Auto Insurance Discounts
Insurers often discount their rates for good drivers and those who take safety and security precautions. Depending on the insurer, you can often lower your rates from 5 to 35 percent. Sometimes the investment you make in your vehicle is worth the discount, and sometimes it’s simply worth some peace of mind. For example, the purchase of anti-lock brakes merits a discount from nearly every insurer, but the discount probably will not pay for the brakes during the normal life of your vehicle.
What steps can I take to reduce my Auto Insurance rates?
Insurers generally offer discounts for:
Safety Features—Anti-lock brakes, air bags and passive restraint systems (i.e., automatic seat belts).
Defensive Driving—Clean violation record, driver’s education courses for teenagers and defensive driving or accident prevention courses for adults (insurance discounts for the latter are required in some states).
Security Systems—Alarms, electronic locks and disabling devices.
Changing Driving Habits—Commuting by public transit, using a company vehicle for work-related travel and car-pooling.
Buy Home Insurance and Auto Insurance from the Same Company—If you own a home and automobiles and you are insured by two different companies, check into the cost of carrying both policies by one insurer. Your agent can give you guidance as to which insurers offer discounts.
Early Quoting gives a discount for planning ahead and getting quotes for new policies more than just a few days before coverage is needed.
Higher Deductibles (the amount of money you pay before you make a claim). Increasing your deductibles on collision and comprehensive coverage to $1,000 will bring your rates down considerably. Moreover, it may make sense to eliminate collision and/or comprehensive coverage if you drive an older car.
Do I always need to buy the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) when I rent a car?
Most personal auto policies extend whatever Comprehensive and Collision coverage you have on your own vehicle to the rental vehicle, as long as the rental vehicle is a private passenger car, pickup truck, van or trailer. However, if a rental auto is damaged, you likely will be contractually obligated to pay for losses and damages to the vehicle that are not covered by your insurance policy. Things like diminished value, loss of rental, handling charges, and legal fees make it a wise idea to purchase the rental company’s Collision Damage Waiver. Be sure to check with your agent on coverage prior to renting a vehicle.
Also, if you do not have your own Auto Insurance policy, be aware that many car rental Liability policies cover you, at best, only at the state’s required minimum limits. Also, in this case you should definitely purchase the Collision and Comprehensive coverages offered by the rental company, for your own protection. Plus, do not mistakenly assume that the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) from the rental company is insurance. A CDW simply releases you from financial responsibility if you damage the vehicle you are renting, provided you comply with the terms of the rental contract. However, those terms can vary considerably, and CDWs are not state-regulated, which means they are technically not insurance.
Do I need a special Auto Insurance policy for a classic car?
You should always talk to your agent about coverage of any rare and valuable property, especially classic cars. Since a classic car usually cannot be replaced, you’ll probably want ample compensation if it is damaged beyond repair. A classic car, because it is rare or unique, may indeed require a special insurance policy. We have the industry’s best Classic Auto Insurance policy for your Pride and Joy.
What if I use my Private Passenger vehicle for business?
While it will depend on the exact specifics of your business use, in general using a private passenger vehicle in your business is OK, as long as you have discussed this use with your insurance agent and your policy is appropriately rated. However, using your vehicle for carrying passengers and/or goods for a fee (Uber, Lyft, Pizza Hut, etc) is specifically excluded under Personal Auto Insurance policies.
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