Car Insurance FAQ
- Q.What Does Auto Insurance Cover?
- Q.Is Auto Insurance Required?
- Q.How Expensive Is Car Insurance?
- Q.Does Auto Insurance Cover Rental Cars?
- Q.Does Auto Insurance Cover Theft?
- Q.Can I Get Car Insurance with a Suspended License?
There are several categories of auto insurance, each of which covers a different aspect of your risk as a driver. Here is a brief overview of these types of coverage:
- Liability: If you are deemed at fault in a car accident, liability coverage will pay for repairs, medical costs for injuries suffered by others in the vehicle, plus other expenses related to the accident such as legal fees. Your liability limits are set at the time you purchase your policy. There are two parts to liability coverage: Bodily injury liability and property damage liability. The limits are the maximum amount the policy will pay out; anything above that would come out of your pocket unless you have other insurance.
- Collision: If you hit another vehicle or an object (like a guardrail), your collision coverage will pay for damages or repairs to your vehicle after you pay a deductible (up-front amount). In other words, if you have collision coverage with a $500 deductible and you suffer damage that costs $1,500, your collision coverage will pay $1000 after you pay the first $500.
- Comprehensive: Comprehensive coverage, which is also known as "other than collision," pays for losses to your vehicle if it suffers damage from something other than an accident. For example, if a tree falls on your car or you hit a deer while driving, some portion of that loss will be covered if you have comprehensive coverage. Like collision, comprehensive has a deductible attached to it.
- Medical Expenses: This coverage pays for injuries that you, a family member or anyone else riding your vehicle may suffer in an auto accident, regardless of who is at fault. It also pays for injuries you or your family members may incur while riding in other vehicles.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist: This coverage pays for injuries and property damage you suffer in an accident when the driver at fault either is uninsured or does not have enough insurance to cover your injuries and damage. It will also cover you in the event that a hit-and-run driver flees the scene and you cannot file a claim against that driver’s insurance company.
- Roadside Assistance: Many insurance companies offer this optional coverage. If you need a tow or service for a flat tire or dead battery, roadside assistance will provide that service for a nominal premium.
- Rental Reimbursement: If your car is in the shop for several days and you need a vehicle, this coverage will provide that for you for a nominal premium.
Forty-seven states require vehicles to have some level of insurance coverage before they can be on the road. Failure to have insurance can mean a fine and/or jail time in these states, not to mention suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. In most of those states, the minimum required coverage is liability insurance to cover damage and injuries you may cause, though a handful of states require additional coverage, such as collision and comprehensive.
Your vehicle just might be the most expensive possession you have other than your home. However, your auto insurance won't necessarily be costly.
While rates vary from state to state and take into account a variety of factors, car insurance is usually fairly affordable. The factors that affect your costs include whether your car is new or used, the overall safety rating of the car, your driving record, your age and gender, and even your ZIP code, as certain areas tend to have a higher occurrence of accidents and claims than others.
The discounts you may qualify for include:
- Good student discount: May apply if the young driver in your family has good grades
- Good driver discount: May apply if you’ve been accident-free for a period of time
- Multi-car discount: May apply if you insure more than one of your vehicles with the same company
- Multi-policy discount: May apply when you insure both your home and car with the same company
This is a common question. If you make sure you have your own vehicle covered, do you need to get the special coverage offered at the rental counter if you go on vacation and get a rental car?
You will have to double-check your particular policy, but most policies do provide the same coverage for a rental car that you have for your personal vehicle, unless the rental is being used for business purposes. It’s always a good idea to check your policy.
If your car is stolen, a number of things need to happen for you to be compensated for your loss. First, you will need to file a police report and wait while there is an attempt at recovery. If your car is not recovered, you can file a claim with your insurance company if you have comprehensive coverage.
Because of the risk insurance companies face with fraudulent claims, you will need to complete some paperwork to file your claim. But providing you have documentation for the stolen vehicle, your insurance will compensate you for the value of the vehicle up to the limit of your comprehensive coverage.
Most insurance companies will not issue or maintain insurance for someone who has a suspended or revoked driver’s license. If you need to get from home to work while your license is suspended, you are not out of luck.
You can work with your local DMV to get a hardship license, or you can file an SR 22 form through your insurance agent who can file that with the DMV. If you are allowed behind the wheel due to a hardship license and/or an SR 22 form (which guarantees insurance coverage for a period of time), then you will be able to get car insurance.