If you’ve ever wondered how auto insurance works, you’re not alone. There are a lot of confusing terms like “Premiums,” “Premium calculators,” and “Co-Insurance.” However, if you know what to look for and ask the right questions when dealing with car insurance should be much easier than it seems.
Auto insurance is required by law in almost all states in the U.S., but there are many variations between them as well as private companies that vary enormously in price and quality of service. So how do you pick a good company and a good policy?
What is car insurance?
It’s important to understand that car insurance is really more than just the policy you want. It’s also the process of registering, buying, and renewing it.
There are many different types of auto insurance policies that you can purchase or get on your own. Each of them usually comes with varying amounts of coverage and different prices throughout the year depending on your driving record, geographical area, and more. You can even buy “no-fault” coverage which covers injuries or property damage regardless of who was at fault (i.e., hit by another car). But for this article, I’ll focus on what is most common: liability insurance.
Liability insurance is the minimum amount that you must buy to legally operate a vehicle on public roads. It covers you if you hurt or kill someone, and it also covers damage to their property (i.e., if you hit their car and it gets damaged).
Do I need car insurance?
You can buy car insurance whenever you want, but I recommend getting it as soon as possible. Many companies require you to purchase it within 30 days of purchasing your vehicle (or within 30 days of getting your license). However, there are usually exceptions for some vehicles like new or used cars with special features. You can also get an insurance quote online very quickly and determine if you need anything more than what is covered by the liability coverage offered on most policies.
What does car insurance cover?
There are a lot of theories on how car insurance really works, but in short, it’s this: When you buy a policy, you’re basically getting an agreement with the car insurance company that says they won’t let anyone “own” your car if you don’t renew it. Basically, they want to make sure you keep buying a policy, or else they will have to sell your car.
Another way that auto insurance apparently works is that people tend to think their driver’s license will save them if something happens. However, even if you have the best driver’s license, good grades, and good credit history, it doesn’t mean that you can get insurance very easily or at all.
Getting auto insurance is harder than getting your driver’s license for several reasons. One of them is because of all the “insurability factors” that the insurance companies use to decide if they want to cover you. They use these factors in order to decide how much risk they will take on when insuring you – ultimately affecting the price. For example, if you have a history of DUIs, accidents, speeding tickets, or live in a bad area then you might have to pay more. However, they are required by law to cover you if your policy is active at the time of an accident – even if there are several factors that caused the accident.
The price is also affected by how much coverage you want. If you want full coverage on all drivers that drive your car, then you will probably have to pay more for it since it’s “riskier.” Also, some people may not be able to afford full coverage because of its high price – so they opt for the cheapest one they can find.
The last way that auto insurance supposedly works can be explained by the “pyramid” or “tombstone” model: When you buy a policy, what it really means is that they made a contract with you and/or your agent. They will pay out the amounts when there is an accident and they will be responsible for this time. The agency or agent will also get money when you buy a policy from them – but only when you renew it with them. This is why most insurance agents make commissions (“comps”) on your annual renewal (i.e., when you let your insurance policies run out and then come back with them to buy new ones). Below are the standard coverages on most car insurance policies:
Many people are confused about the difference between liability coverage and bodily injury liability coverage. It’s important to know the differences so you can make an informed decision.
Liability coverage is what you buy when you purchase your car or truck, and it’s required nationwide by law in most states. It covers you if someone is injured or killed as a result of your actions – any person involved with your vehicle at any time whether they are inside or outside of it, including passengers.
Bodily injury liability is similar to that, except that it covers injuries sustained by passengers too. It doesn’t have to be related to something your vehicle did, so it doesn’t require any accidents with anyone else.
Collision coverage is optional and covers your vehicle if it’s damaged as a result of an accident or crash. For example, if you hit another car and damage their fender, they may sue you for the cost of the repairs to their car. With collision coverage, your car insurance company will pay for those costs instead of you.
Comprehensive coverage is also optional and covers any damage to your vehicle that isn’t the result of an accident or crash. Examples include vandalism, loss or theft of your vehicle, and flooding. Like collision coverage, most companies won’t pay out any money until you’ve paid your deductible first (including theft).
4) Medical Payments
Medical payments coverage isn’t technically car insurance, but it typically comes with most policies. It covers any medical expenses you might have if you are in an accident. It also covers coverage for passengers in your car, so be sure to check if you have this feature before deciding on a policy.
If you are injured in a collision or accident, your auto insurance company will typically provide some form of free or low-cost medical services to you with their providers at the time of the event. If not, then be sure to ask what provider they will use if they aren’t using one near where the accident occurred.
What does auto insurance not cover?
Insurance policies vary from one company to another and you should always read the fine print of your policy. However, most companies will not cover damage that you caused (including vandalism), medical expenses if your injury wasn’t a result of a car accident, and damage due to natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes.
You can purchase additional coverage with some companies for these things. It may be included in an umbrella or “stacked” policy (stands alone from your auto insurance) or as a rider on your auto insurance policy. However, these additional features will cost extra money on top of the base price for each policy.
Does car insurance cover maintenance?
No. If you want full coverage, you will need to purchase it separately. However, many companies offer “towing and labor” coverage which covers the cost of repairs to your vehicle if they are damaged or broken down.
Does car insurance cover rental cars?
If your car is damaged beyond repair, you can usually use your auto insurance company’s network for rental cars. Some companies may only cover the cost of the first week or two, but others can provide more extensive coverage that covers any damage you cause to their vehicles or drivers on the road as well as your own vehicle being towed to a shop for repairs. Read your policy to find out exactly what is covered.
How to get car insurance?
The first step is to make sure you have liability, collision, uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance coverage. If you don’t buy it at the same time as the policy for your vehicle or if your state law doesn’t require it, many companies may allow you to purchase it within 30 days of moving your vehicle (or getting your license).
You can also get an online auto insurance quote today by searching on Google! Find out what kind of car insurance is best for you and how much it will cost, there are a lot of car insurance companies available in the USA.
How to choose car insurance?
Most auto insurance companies will offer free auto insurance quotes online. The next step is to compare that quote with your current auto policy. You might even obtain quotations from several different companies to see how much you can save if you switch.
Most states now require mandatory liability coverage for drivers, so even without the collision and comprehensive coverage, it’s still important to purchase liability coverage on your current policy. If you don’t have this, ask for it when you obtain your quotes.
The good news is that accident claims costs have been declining for years — below inflation — and will continue to do so, meaning rates will likely go down.
The key things to look for when choosing a car insurance policy are:
Availability of a 24-hour claims line. This is important because if you have an accident or your car gets damaged, the last thing you need is to spend time trying to find somebody that can pay for the damages. The best auto insurance companies have 24-hour claims lines available so that you can get assistance immediately.
Broad coverage, but with enough exclusions to avoid unnecessary costs. Auto insurance companies love to use legal terms like “broad coverage” so it pays to take your time and really go through the policy before purchasing it.
Cost. The only way to know what your expenses will be is to have some idea of the average cost of replacing a car. A good way to do this is through online programs that will calculate how much it costs to replace your vehicle with one of a similar model, though they are no substitute for thorough research.
Personal accident benefits. If you’re involved in an accident, the last thing you want is to find out that you can’t afford your medical expenses or pick up any other personal losses that might occur because of the accident. While not all auto policies have medical benefits, if you don’t have them, then you need to check this out before you buy your policy.
Two-year policies with no annual mileage limitations. You can find the cheaper car insurance that has an annual mileage limit, such as five thousand miles per year (or more), but it’s not worth the savings if those few extra miles mean that your car will be worth less than the amount of money you spend for this policy.
Liability coverage: The best auto insurance companies offer liability coverage options to fit different circumstances and needs. It’s always best to get the liability coverage that’s required in your state, but if you don’t have it, it is important to consider whether you can still get good insurance rates. Liability coverage is required by every state and drivers are legally responsible for injuries that occur when they are behind the wheel.
Collision insurance: This covers damage to your own car caused by another car or object. If you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, hit-and-run, or some other incident where there is no financial obligation on the part of the other party, collision insurance might help secure payment for any damages. Collision insurance is a great option for those who have a car worth more than the deductible.
How to choose a car insurance company?
You can get free auto insurance quotes online and compare them with your current insurance for your car. You may receive multiple quotes from several different companies. Then, select the one that offers you the best value and coverage at the most affordable price.
Be sure you understand what is covered in your policy, especially if you have any special coverage needs. It’s usually cheaper to buy additional coverage when you have it, but not always. If you have to consider your budget when shopping for car insurance, then check out our best car insurance quotes page where there are some great offers on auto insurance. Then decide which company is offering the best value for your money.
Another important way to get cheap auto insurance is by shopping online. Many of the best auto insurance providers offer discounts for new customers and some even offer coupons and money-saving deals. You can also see the direct links to each of the auto insurance companies whose products are featured on this page.
Is car insurance mandatory in my state?
Most states require you to have liability coverage. You should check your state laws for your particular situation, but liability coverage is typically required by all states. If you do not have collision or comprehensive coverage, it’s highly recommended that you purchase it before getting insurance for your vehicle.
If you do not have an auto insurance policy, you will receive a citation when fined by local law enforcement or fined by the court. The penalties may include fines, increasing your insurance premiums, time spent in jail, and others.
What is the most affordable car insurance?
You can get a free auto insurance quote online right now by clicking here! Just enter a few details about your vehicle and location to get started. Once you have a free quote from an agent or company, you can compare this with your existing coverage to make sure it offers the same features and benefits. If it’s not as good as what you already have, then consider calling them to find out if there are discounts available for new customers.
The final words
Car insurance is a necessity for drivers in the US and abroad. It’s your responsibility to protect your family and others on the road from potentially disastrous events that could occur at any time.
You must also protect yourself against financial disaster in the event of a catastrophic incident. We hope this guide has taught you everything you need to know about purchasing and maintaining car insurance, so you can protect yourself and your loved ones in the future!
If the car is what pleases you, be sure to check out our articles with advice on how to buy a new or used vehicle.