Carrying a minimum amount of auto insurance is required by state laws, so you can’t legally drive without it. Yet while the minimum amount keeps your premiums lower, it can also put you at great risk if you have an accident. And after an accident is not the time to find out you’re underinsured.
When considering the amount and type of coverage you need, remember that numbers can be deceiving. For instance, carrying $100,000 of liability coverage may sound like a lot, and it is. But even that much likely won’t cover medical costs if you’re involved in an accident that causes serious injury, especially if multiple people are involved. When you consider medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, emotional distress, and residual pain and scarring, $100,000 doesn’t go very far. And without enough insurance, you would be required to pay the difference between your liability limits and actual costs of an accident.
The following are some important things to consider when shopping for auto insurance.
Cost isn’t everything. Don’t approach auto coverage like a commodity in which cost is the only factor. The amount you carry should be based on your lifestyle, earnings, how much and where you drive, your overall risk exposure, and other factors.
Personalize your search. We strongly suggest talking with an independent insurance agent about your personal risk exposure. This helps ensure you get the most appropriate coverage for your life and your budget, and it gives you a chance to ask an agent specific questions.
Physical damage vs. liability. Physical damage coverage helps pay for repairs to your car following an accident or loss. Comprehensive physical damage coverage goes even further by covering damage to your vehicle that does not result from a car accident, such as if a tree falls on it. Liability coverage pays medical bills and property damage you may be held responsible for if you cause an accident that injures another person or damages their property.
When deciding which option is best for you, consider your budget, financial assets, and risk exposure and select the highest limits you can afford. This helps reduce your risk of having to pay for any costs above your limits in case of accident or liability.
Uninsured and underinsured coverage. Some states require drivers to have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to pay damages you are entitled to if damages exceed the at-fault driver’s limits. Even if it is not required where you live, adding it to your policy can maximize your protection for a relatively low cost.
Understanding different policy options can help you get the best combination of coverage, value, and cost. The following are a few common, and valuable, options to consider.
Loan/lease gap coverage. With this optional coverage, if the unpaid loan or lease amount exceeds the value of your car after an accident, your insurance policy will help cover the unpaid amount on the loan or lease minus what your car is actually worth today. If you were in an accident without this coverage, you would be responsible for the difference between the actual cash value and the unpaid loan balance.
New car replacement. If you have a new car, you may not have enough coverage to get an equivalent vehicle if your new car is totaled. New car replacement coverage will pay either the purchase price to replace the vehicle, the cost of a similar new vehicle, or the market value of the vehicle.
Roadside assistance and emergency expenses. Having roadside assistance and emergency expense coverages ensures you can get a tow truck, battery jump-start, tire changes, or even labor should your car break down. Emergency assistance can cover transportation, lodging, and personal property coverage. Much better than being stuck on the side of the road!
Pet coverage. We understand that pets are family, too. Pet coverage will help pay for the veterinary expenses if your dog or cat is injured or killed in a collision.
Ask About Discounts
When talking with an independent agent or comparing insurance companies, be sure to ask about discounts. Some ways to save on your premiums include:
Maintain a safe driving record. Installing a device or app that tracks your miles, driving behavior, and the time of day you drive can all demonstrate that you are a safe driver and could result in a noticeable discount.
Own a home. You’ll save on premiums if you own your house.
Package your policies. You can get a discount when you bundle your home, auto, boat, motorcycle, or other policies with a single insurance company. Having just one bill is more convenient too.
Paid in full billing. By paying your bill at the start or renewal of the policy rather than monthly, you can reduce your premiums.
To learn more about getting the right coverage for your needs, give us a call today!
Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance.
Monday, June 29, 2020 at 11:24pm EDT
It’s great that you can add roadside assistance services to your policy so that you can get help if you ever break down. I am moving to a new state next month, so I won’t have any family or friends around to help me if something bad happens on the road. Roadside assistance is definitely something I will consider when choosing an insurance policy.
Tuesday, February 1, 2022 at 10:10pm EST
It sure was nice when you said that you could bundle your auto, home, and boat insurance policies in order to get a discount. My husband and I are thinking of shopping for an auto insurance policy for the new SUV that we bought. We definitely want to find the best type of coverage without breaking our banks, so your tips will surely be helpful.
Monday, February 7, 2022 at 11:15am EST
Thank you for explaining that you can ask about discounts such as those for having a safe driving record or for owning a home. My husband and I have been thinking wondering if we should try to see if any discounts apply to us since our insurance premium is pretty high. We’ll be sure to ask our insurance agent about these discounts soon since it seems like we might qualify for some of these.
Friday, April 8, 2022 at 2:51pm EDT
Thanks for the tip about talking with an independent agent about your risk exposure in relation to car insurance. My brother recently asked me if I had any advice about how to shop for car insurance since our parents took him off of theirs. I’ll be sure to share this informative article and tell him to reach out to a reputable insurance agency.
Sunday, May 15, 2022 at 4:39am EDT
I appreciate you letting me know that you must not only put the cost into consideration when choosing auto coverage but instead you must also consider your lifestyle, earnings, how much you drive, and your overall risk exposure. It’s my first time owning a car, and it’s been quite overwhelming deciding what policy to get. I’ll be sure to keep this in mind once I find an automobile insurance company I can trust with my car policy.
Monday, May 30, 2022 at 6:19am EDT
Informative blog! thanks for sharing.
Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at 2:13pm EDT
Thank you for explaining that you should understand different policy options. I need to get new car insurance, so I’ve been wondering what I should know to be more prepared. I’ll be sure to do some more research about these things before talking with different agencies for quotes.
Thursday, June 23, 2022 at 10:07pm EDT
I never knew that you could possibly avail of insurance discounts when your install a device in your car that tracks your miles and driving behavior. My son will surely find this tip helpful because his car has an anti-theft device installed, and he has been keeping a clean driving record for the past two years. I think it will be best for him to collect estimates to find the best auto insurance deal for his new sedan.
Tuesday, July 5, 2022 at 1:33am EDT
What caught my attention is when you said that you could be offered a noticeable discount when you demonstrate that you are a safe driver. This is something that I will consider because I am planning to shop for an insurance policy for my new sedan next week. Maybe, I can shop for discounts since I have been keeping a clean driving record for two years now.
Wednesday, July 13, 2022 at 4:16am EDT
It made sense to me when you said that speaking with an independent insurance agent could help you choose the most appropriate coverage for your house. My husband and I will take note of this because we are planning to shop for a home insurance policy. We want to have peace of mind that our belongings inside the house are going to be protected by a policy in case of theft and disasters, so your tips are helpful.
Wednesday, July 13, 2022 at 2:01pm EDT
It’s good to know that cost isn’t everything when you are buying auto insurance. I’m hoping that I can invest in commercial auto insurance for my employees. They drive trucks for work, so I want to make sure that I can take care of them if something happens to them.
Tuesday, August 30, 2022 at 5:13pm EDT
The thing that stuck out to me the most is when you said that when you bundle your car insurance policy with other policies under one insurance company, you can save money. My husband purchased a new 2022 sedan more than a week ago, and he is planning to purchase an insurance policy for it. I will ask him to consider your tips, especially since we are interested in having our two-story house insured, too.
Tuesday, September 6, 2022 at 2:18am EDT
Thank you for explaining the difference between physical damage coverage and liability. Physical damage coverage can help you pay for repairs to your own car after an accident while a comprehensive coverage goes further by covering damage to your own vehicle that does not result from a car accident. My dad’s looking for a nationwide auto insurance coverage since he and my mom will travel the south in an RV this summer.
Friday, September 9, 2022 at 1:40pm EDT
My husband and I just bought a new SUV last week and we’re hoping to get a new insurance policy. Thanks for mentioning that new car replacement insurance will be better for getting enough coverage for your new car. I’ll try to find an insurance agency that offers this policy.
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Monday, September 19, 2022 at 11:01am EDT
Researching the right insurance company takes time but is necessary to find the best policies at the right price. Thanks for sharing!
Monday, September 19, 2022 at 3:04pm EDT
It’s good to know that you should invest in insurance that offers physical damage and liability. I’m hoping that I can talk to an insurance agency this week about my son’s policy. He just got his license, so I want to add him to my policy.
Wednesday, September 28, 2022 at 11:53am EDT
Thank you for explaining that it’s important to understand that your insurance should be based off of your needs from your lifestyle, earnings, etc, and not just cost. I’ve been wondering what I should be considering while looking at my car insurance options. I’ll have to remember this when looking over the quotes I’ve received.
Thursday, January 12, 2023 at 8:00pm EST
I got my license last month, so I wanted to get an insurance plan once I buy a car of my own sometime soon. I appreciate you letting us know that we should consider our personal risk exposure when deciding on the coverage for our auto insurance to ensure we get the appropriate one suitable for our lifestyle and budget. I’ll take note of this while I look for an auto insurance provider to contact for inquiries soon.
Tuesday, January 17, 2023 at 3:08pm EST
I like how you explained that it is a good idea to ask about discounts when you are speaking to an independent insurance agent. Do insurance companies have sales and promotions that they don’t always advertise? It seems like asking an insurance agent would be a good way to learn more about promotions that aren’t being advertised.
Tuesday, March 7, 2023 at 4:39pm EST
Thanks for mentioning that it can be helpful to reach out to an independent insurance agency when choosing car insurance. My husband and I are thinking about getting a new car for our son but we want to ensure that he gets really good coverage. We’ll reach out to a car insurance agent tomorrow to learn more.
Wednesday, March 15, 2023 at 1:07pm EDT
Thank you for pointing out how cost isn’t the most important thing when it comes to getting car insurance. My sister wants to get some insurance for some of the cars for her business. I’ll have to share this with her so she can be sure to get something that will cover all of her needs.
Danielle Moscinski [Staff at Members Insurance Center]
Tuesday, January 17, 2023 at 3:17pm EST
Thank you for your comment! Typically insurance companies do not have sales or promotions. It is the responsibility of the Agent to ask questions to determine what discounts you qualify for. If you speak with an Agent that does not ask, we recommend asking what discounts are available and reviewing each one to determine if it can be added to your quote.
Friday, September 11, 2020 at 4:26pm EDT
My husband and I are thinking about buying a new car soon because we think it would help save us time and help us not have to take public transit everywhere. Thanks for mentioning that we should talk to an independent agent about car insurance so we can get a policy that best fits our life and budget. I think that would also help make sure that we knew what our options are as well as what we needed to look for, so we’ll have to find one that can help us.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020 at 1:15pm EDT
I’m wanting to buy a new car next month so I can drive to work and I’m worried about the insurance rate rising. I like how you mentioned finding an independent agent for car insurance to get the best policy for my lifestyle. It seems I should find out different options to find the best one to help me out.
Monday, November 2, 2020 at 10:31pm EST
This is some really good information about getting car insurance. I like that you pointed out that it would be better to maintain driving records. That is good for me to understand because I want to get my first car this winter. It does seem like I should get an expert to help me find good insurance.
Friday, November 6, 2020 at 11:57am EST
I definitely agree with the idea that cost isn’t everything when it comes to auto insurance. You have to look at everything a plan comes from and determine whether it’s worthwhile, especially if a plan has bells and whistles that may not be relevant.
Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at 9:54am EST
When you said that car insurance should be based on my lifestyle and overall risk exposure, I thought about my driving schedules. They’re not frequent at all and I’m only planning to use my vehicle every weekend to run some errands. Maybe I should emphasize this to insurance providers before getting a possible quote.
Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at 6:12pm EST
I appreciate you helping me to understand that the lifestyle you have will affect the amount of auto insurance you should carry. It seems like younger adults and teenagers would have to pay more money on car insurance because they are more likely to get into accidents. It would probably be a good idea to practice safe driving habits so that you can have cheaper insurance.
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Thursday, March 18, 2021 at 12:17pm EDT
It’s very interesting to learn about the dynamics of what to consider when choosing the right auto insurance. All 12 of the points were well founded and brought an easy understanding to read and comprehend. Thank you!
Monday, March 29, 2021 at 2:10pm EDT
Thanks for your tip to personalize your search for an insurance company. My husband and I need auto insurance. We will have to keep our search personalized to find a good one.
Thursday, May 27, 2021 at 3:31pm EDT
This summer, my nephew is going to start learning how to drive. Thanks for explaining the different auto insurance options and that my sister shouldn’t focus on just the cost when choosing coverage. Maybe she can look online to research auto insurance companies and find one that can keep her son properly covered.
Thursday, May 27, 2021 at 9:11pm EDT
I never knew that you can actually save on premiums if you own your house and if you can demonstrate that you are a safe driver. This is something that I will share with my father since I heard that he is planning to shop for an auto insurance policy for his new car. He wanted to find ways to reduce his premiums since his monthly budget is limited. He owns 3 properties, and it might be a good idea for him to shop for discounts.
Thursday, October 21, 2021 at 12:48pm EDT
Thank you for defining the difference between physical damage coverage and liability. Physical damage coverage helps pay for repairs to your own car after an accident. Comprehensive coverage goes further by covering damage to your own vehicle that does not result from a car accident. This difference is important to know.
Tuesday, November 2, 2021 at 10:17pm EDT
It is nice to know that we can get coverage for roadside assistance in case a battery dies or if we need a tow truck. I just bought my first car and am looking at getting it insured so I can finally start driving myself to work. I think it would be smart to contact a professional who can help me get the best insurance coverage for my needs.
Tuesday, November 9, 2021 at 9:27am EST
Thank you for explaining the different coverage options we have for auto insurance. I just bought a car and my dad told me I need to get insurance before I can drive it. I should contact an insurance company that can help me get the best coverage for me.
Thursday, November 11, 2021 at 8:55pm EST
I appreciate the information about the different types of coverage. I just bought a car and I need to get insurance. Since I don’t really know what policy I need, it would be smart to contact a professional about my options.