Do You Understand Car Insurance? Part 2 of 3

Driving a car is one of the most dangerous activities in which we partake on a daily basis, and insurance is one of the most important ways to assure that you and others are protected in the case of an accident. There are two main parts to an auto insurance policy – liability, which covers you in the event that you or someone else is injured, and physical damage, which covers your car. To ensure that you purchase sufficient coverage, it is necessary to fully understand the two.

Auto Liability Coverage

You generally have two options for liability coverage: Split Limits and Combined Single Limit (usually the more expensive). Although they respond differently in a claim, they both cover the following:

  • Bodily Injury – Responds in the case you cause injury to someone else. You should take out the maximum that you can afford.
  • Property Damage – Covers you in the case that you damage someone else’s property in an accident. This also includes damage you cause to someone’s car.
  • Personal Injury Protection – Previously called No Fault, this covers you, other people in your car, and pedestrians you hit that are injured in an accident. Again, it is best to hold the maximum coverage.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage – Responds if another party causes an accident and lacks sufficient coverage. You should match this coverage with your total liability insurance.

You can never have too much liability insurance. Although your state may impose a minimum to register a car, this amount is almost always dangerously low. Always take out the maximum, if you can afford it, and supplement with umbrella coverage, if available.

Physical Damage Coverage

Unless you are loaning or leasing a vehicle, physical damage coverage is usually optional. It is possible to have either comprehensive or both comprehensive and collision coverage, but you cannot take out collision coverage without comprehensive.

  • Comprehensive (sometimes referred to as Comp or Other Than Collision) – This covers your car for almost any type of damage excluding collision. This includes theft, fire, keying, and even impact with an animal.
  • Collision – This coverage responds if your car collides with another object, such as a car, tree, or building.
  • Full glass coverage – Although glass is covered under comprehensive coverage, for an additional premium, you can have your glass repaired or replaced without first paying a deductible.

Saving Money on Car Insurance

If you are looking to save money on your car insurance, you may like to drop physical damage coverage, increase deductibles, or take defensive driving. Here is a good rule of thumb:

  • Drop physical damage (comp and collision) coverage if premiums are close to the value of your car. A good time to consider this is when your car is between 10-15 years old.
  • Make your deductibles as high as you are able to pay out of pocket. Maximum allowed deductibles might be imposed by a lender, so check with them before deciding to increase.
  • In many states, NY included, defensive driving classes can be taken online and will provide a discount on your policy for three years after the date it’s taken.

Choosing the right car insurance can be a difficult process. Auto insurance is complicated and can be quite involved when handled on your own. A better option is to seek out an insurance agency to help you with your individual needs. For further help and advice, contact us at George A. Bell & Son.