In almost all the states it is illegal to drive without car insurance. Car insurance provides you with some amount of financial protection in the event of an accident. It could actually be what stands between you and financial ruin, if you met with or caused an accident. Vandalism, natural calamity, fire, theft, is also some of the possibilities. A good insurance cover comes in handy at such times.
A driver should take a basic auto insurance policy. Depending on where you live, certain coverage is mandatory and some are optional. A basic auto insurance policy consists of the following coverage:
1. Liability insurance: The coverage here is for the bodily as well as property damage caused by you to others. Some states require minimum liability coverage. It also covers legal expenses incurred by you in case a lawsuit is filed against you.
2. Collision and comprehensive coverage: Collision coverage pays for expenses incurred to repair your car caused by an accident. The premium for collision coverage depends on how much deductible you are willing to pay. It may range from $250 to $1000. The higher your deductibles the lower the premium. Deductibles are the amount paid from your pocket for repairs before the provider pays. Comprehensive coverage takes care of expenses due to vandalism, natural disaster, fire, theft etc. Both these covers are not mandatory, but if your vehicle is financed by a bank, they may ask you to take it.
3. Medical payment (MedPay): It covers your medical expenses as well as those of your passengers, whether you were driving your car or someone else’s.
4. Personal injury protection (PIP): It covers medical expenses, lost wages to you as well as your passengers. It also covers funeral expenses.
5. Underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage: This coverage pays for your damages in case you are a victim of an accident caused by a driver who is not insured sufficiently to cover all medical bills. With an uninsured cover, you are covered if you sustain injuries caused by a driver who is not at all insured. It also takes care of hit-and-run cases.
6. Extras: Extra cover may be availed for expenses incurred for rental car in case your car is damaged or in case of theft. Towing charges may be recovered if you take such a coverage. Gap insurance pays the difference if your car is totaled, between the actual cash received and the remaining loan.
When you decide to buy auto insurance you need to take care of a few things:
1. Shop around to find the cheapest insurance for the maximum coverage.
2. Check with near and dear ones to find out companies that customer service and facilitate easy claims process.
3. Do not take comprehensive and collision coverage with higher deductibles for older cars.
4. In the case of PIP if you have a good health insurance, you can skip it or go for the minimum amount if it is mandatory in your state.
5. It is safer to go for higher liability damage as you may have to pay from your own pocket in case the claim exceeds your coverage.