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Auto Insurance Basics

There are many auto insurance carriers selling policies in the USA. Some only sell in certain parts of the country and some sell in almost all parts of the country. Allstate, Farmers, Nationwide and State Farm are a few examples of companies that sell policies throughout most parts of the country. The rate (premium payments) for an auto insurance policy is the number one consideration for most people. Rates can vary significantly from one company to another depending on your personal situation. A company's ability to settle claims quickly and fairly also needs to be considered. For example, if you are on vacation and have a claim in another state where your insurer does not offer policies, your claim may be delayed and out of pocket expenses may be greater. Many insurers also have a network of approved auto repair shops that will help expedite a claim and often using one of these shops will give you a guarantee on the repair done to the car. An agent is also an important consideration when choosing an insurance company. He or she has a vested interest in you as a client and will get to know you personally. Without you, the client, an agent has no business. You can speak to your agent in confidence and determine the best course of action from choosing policy coverages to claims handling. An agent comes with the policy and is at your service throughout the policy period.

Each state has different regulations regarding mandatory coverages but most states offer these common major coverage options:

  • Bodily Injury – This section of the policy pays in the event that you are found to be legally liable for causing someone to be injured with your car. This is the section that will pay if there is a lawsuit against you.( mandatory coverage to drive legally in most states)

  • Property Damage – This section pays when you damage someone else’s property with your car. That property is often the other car that was involved in the accident with you.( mandatory coverage to drive legally in most states)

  • Medical – In an accident where medical attention is needed, this section typically pays the medical bills for you and often your passengers as well. This coverage is sometimes referred to as PIP or personal injury protection coverage. (mandatory coverage to drive legally in most states)

  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage – This section provides coverage to you if you are involved in an accident with another motorist who has no insurance. This section will generally only pay if the accident is not your fault. This coverage will pay for your bodily injury and sometimes to fix your car as well. (mandatory coverage in many states)

  • Underinsured Motorist Coverage – This section provides coverage to you if you are involved in an accident with another motorist who has insurance but does not have enough to satisfy a financial judgment against them for your injuries or does not have enough coverage to pay for fixing your car. This section will generally pay only if the accident is not your fault.(mandatory coverage in many states)

  • Collision Coverage – This section pays for damages to your car resulting from your vehicle colliding with another object or flipping over. Having this coverage on your car is sometimes referred to as having "full coverage". However, the words "full coverage" do not appear in any policy and do not interpret these words to mean that everything is covered. A qualified agent can explain the details.

  • Comprehensive Coverage – This section is also sometimes referred to as "other than collision". This part of the policy will typically pay for damage to your car that is from something that does not meet the definition of Collision Coverage. Some examples are: fire, theft, vandalism, hit an animal, flood, hail storm and so on. A qualified agent can explain the details.

  • Tort Option – Many states have implemented "tort" laws. A "tort" is a wrong done to another person. The wrong as it relates to auto insurance is an injury caused to another after an auto accident. Many states give the insurance buyer a choice of limiting your right to sue the other party if you are injured in an auto accident. This limits your ability to sue and expect to collect money to more serious injuries. The other choice is having an unlimited right to sue the other party for almost any injury. Generally if you agree to limit your right to sue, the insurer will give you a reduced premium. In agreeing to limit your right to sue, if you are injured in an auto accident and want to proceed with a lawsuit for your injuries, you must then meet the definition of "serious injury". This definition varies from state to state. This is one of the most confusing provisions for the insurance buying public and if your state offers a choice, you should choose carefully and possibly even consult with an attorney. Call an agent today to get more details.

  • Miscellaneous Coverages – There are many other coverages that can be added to an auto policy. Here are just a few examples:

ü       Rental Reimbursement – This coverage pays a dollar amount for you to rent a vehicle in the event that your car is in the shop for repairs due to a covered loss. There is usually a per day dollar limit with a total number of days (common is 30 days) before the coverage will end. Some insurers simply have a total dollar amount that they will pay while others are unlimited.

ü       Income Loss – This coverage will pay for lost wages if you can’t work as a result of an auto accident.

ü       Accidental Death or Death – This coverage pays if the insured dies as a result of an auto accident.

ü       Funeral Benefit – This coverage will pay towards a funeral as a result of the insured’s death.

ü       Roadside Assistance – This coverage will pay for roadside emergencies such as the car won’t start, has a flat tire, runs out of gas, the insured is locked out, etc.

Call a qualified agent today and take advantage of your insurance professional’s service that is second to none.

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