Understanding Auto Insurance: The Basics
Car insurance is a contract between you and the insurance company that protects you against financial loss in the event of an accident or theft. In exchange for you paying a premium, the insurance company agrees to pay your losses as outlined in your policy.
auto insurance provides coverage for:
Reading: What does auto insurance do
- property – such as damage to or theft of your car
- liability – your legal responsibility to others for bodily injury or property damage
- medical: the cost of treating injuries, rehabilitation, and sometimes lost wages and funeral expenses
basic personal auto insurance is required in most of the us. uu. states and laws vary. auto insurance coverages are priced individually (à la carte) to allow you to customize coverage amounts to fit your exact needs and budget.
Policies are generally issued for terms of six months or one year and are renewable. the insurance company sends a notice when it is time to renew the policy and pay the premium.
who is covered by my auto insurance and under what circumstances?
Your auto policy will cover you and other family members on your policy, whether they drive your car or someone else’s car (with your permission). Your policy also provides coverage if someone not on your policy is driving your car with your consent.
Your personal auto policy only covers personal driving, whether it’s to get to work, run errands, or take a trip. will not provide coverage if you use your car for business purposes, such as delivering pizza.
Personal auto insurance will also not provide coverage if you use your car to provide transportation for others through a ride-sharing service, such as Uber or Lyft. however, some auto insurers now offer supplemental insurance products (at additional cost) that extend coverage for owners of vehicles that provide rideshare services.
Is auto insurance coverage mandatory?
Car insurance requirements vary from state to state. If you’re financing a car, your lender may also have their own requirements. Almost all states require car owners to carry:
- Bodily Injury Liability – Covers costs associated with injury or death caused by you or another driver while driving your car.
- Tort Liability property – that reimburses others for damages you or another driver driving your car cause to another vehicle or other property, such as a fence, building, or utility pole.
Also, many states require you to carry:
- Medical Payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP), which provides reimbursement of medical expenses for injuries to you or your passengers. will also cover lost wages and other related expenses.
- Uninsured motorist coverage reimburses you when an accident is caused by a driver who does not have auto insurance, or in the event of a hit and run. You can also purchase insured motorist coverage, which will cover costs when another driver lacks adequate coverage to pay the costs of a serious accident.
Even if PIP and uninsured motorist coverage are optional in your state, consider adding them to your policy for added financial protection.
what other types of auto insurance coverage are typical?
While the most basic and legally required auto insurance covers damage to your car, it doesn’t cover damage to your own car. To cover your own car, you should consider these optional coverages:
- collision reimburses you for damage to your car that occurs as a result of a collision with another vehicle or another object, for example, a tree or a railing, when you are at fault. while collision coverage won’t reimburse you for mechanical breakdowns or normal wear and tear on your car, it will cover damage from potholes or rolling your car.
- comprehensive provides coverage against theft and damage caused by an incident other than a collision, such as fire, flood, vandalism, hail, falling rocks or trees, and other perils, including being hit by an asteroid!
- coverage glass provides coverage against windshield damage, which is common. Some auto policies include glass coverage with no deductible, which also includes side windows, rear windows, and glass sunroofs. or you can purchase additional glass coverage.
what is gap insurance and do i need it?
Collision and Comprehensive only cover the market value of your car, not what you paid for it, and new cars depreciate quickly. If your car is totaled or stolen, there may be a “gap” between what you owe on the vehicle and your insurance coverage. To cover this, you may want to purchase gap insurance to pay the difference. Please note that for leased vehicles, gap coverage is usually included in your lease payments.
Next Steps:View this helpful infographic on the types of required and optional motorist insurance coverages.