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Auto Insurance 101 Explained

Auto insurance can be confusing for most consumers; there are so many different types of insurance and it can be difficult to determine the type of coverage you’re required to carry versus the types of coverage that you really should carry in order to protect yourself but that are not required.

When considering how much car insurance you should have, it is best to do some research and find out what type of insurance is required by the state in which you reside. Not all states require the same levels of insurance. Some states require more types of coverage than others and states also vary in terms of the amount of coverage that is required. So, be sure you know exactly what the minimums are in the state where you live.

You should also understand what is covered by the different types of insurance in order to understand whether you need insurance coverage above and beyond the minimum required by your state of residence.

Bodily injury liability covers injuries that you cause to someone else while driving your vehicle. Generally the rule of thumb for this type of coverage is to purchase more than is required by your state minimums in order to protect your private assets from a law suit in the event that you injure someone.

Medical payments or personal injury protection, commonly known as PIP covers the treatment of injuries for the driver and the passengers of the vehicle. Depending on the level of coverage, this type of policy will compensate lost wages as well as medical payments.

Collision covers any damage that occurs to your vehicle in the event of an accident, even if it is your fault. Of course, a deductible will apply. Your lender will generally require this type of coverage while you still owe on the vehicle.

Comprehensive coverage is for the loss of your vehicle due to damage by something other than a collision such as theft, fire, natural disaster, vandalism, etc. Again, your lender will probably require this coverage for a financed vehicle. Once your loan is paid off, it’s up to you whether you want to continue carrying comprehensive and collision coverage.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can come in handy in the event that you are either involved in a hit and run or if you are hit by someone who does not have insurance or who is underinsured.

When considering how much insurance to take out, start with the amount that is required at a minimum by your state and then consider whether you’re required to take out any additional coverage due to lender requirements. Remember that while we all hope we won’t have a need for insurance, in the event that we do, it can be a financial lifesaver.

Finally, don’t forget to consider your options regarding deductibles. Raising your deductible can help you lower your premiums and that can make taking out additional insurance coverage more affordable. Just be sure you can reasonably afford the deductible in the event you need to use it.