Most people don't know much about car insurance beyond the fact that you pretty much have to have it. Insurance isn't exactly a thrill-a-minute subject. But, when you get into a car wreck (and that's when, not if), even if it's a little fender bender, you'll be glad auto insurance is there to help -- provided you've got the right coverage. This car insurance guide will give you a rundown of everything you need to know about car insurance.
If you're already a car insurance expert and just want to compare rates and companies, you're in the right place too. With our quote tool, you can get multiple car insurance rate quotes and find the best policy for you.
|More Car Insurance Informatio|
Car insurance Costs: Find out what drives the cost of your car insurance.
Car Insurance Discounts: Learn about common car insurance discounts.
Comparing Insurance Companies: Learn how to find the right car insurance company and policy for you.
Filing a Claim: Avoid headaches and extra costs when you have to file a car insurance claim.
Get a quote
Why You Need It
Cars aren't cheap, and car accidents really aren't cheap. In addition to car damage, there are also medical bills to consider. When thinking about the cost of a collision, you need to keep in mind that a car accident may involve more than one car -- that can easily double the cost of the damage. And, if each car has multiple passengers and they all get injured, you see how collision costs add up.
Insurance helps you cover those costs. Basically, you pay for an insurance policy, which is cheaper than the costs you'd likely incur because of an accident. Then, if you have an accident, the policy covers some of the costs associated with it. What your insurance policy covers depends on the type of coverage you buy.
Types of Coverage
The type of coverage you get depends on the laws in your state (most states have some required minimum auto insurance laws), the value of your car, and how much of your own money you're willing to spend if you get into an accident. You can find more information on different types of car insurance coverage by checking out our car insurance glossary.
Collision coverage is pretty basic: it pays for damages to your car if you hit something.
Liability coverage is required by most states. It covers property damage and injuries to others caused by your car. So, if you drive through your neighbor's fence, collision coverage covers the damage to your car and liability coverage covers the damage to the fence. Liability coverage is what you need if you're in an accident and it's your fault.
Medical coverage covers medical expenses that are the result of an accident. If you broke your wrist while driving through your neighbor's fence, this coverage would take care of it.
Comprehensive coverage covers damage to your car that's not the result of a collision. This is the kind of coverage you'd want if a tree fell on your car, or if it were damaged in a flood.
Personal Injury Protection is very similar to medical coverage. The difference is that medical coverage covers everyone injured in an accident, while Personal Injury Protection only covers you. It's required coverage in many states; medical coverage tends to be optional.
Uninsured motorist coverage may just cover injuries you or your passengers receive in an accident caused by someone who doesn't have insurance. In some areas, uninsured motorist coverage will also pay for damages to your car.
Underinsured motorist coverage will pay for injuries sustained by you or your passengers if you're in a wreck with someone who doesn't have enough insurance to pay for the medical costs. In some areas, this type of coverage will also pay for damages to your car -- check with your insurance agent for what's covered under your policy.
Rental reimbursement will pay for you to rent a car while yours is in the shop due to an accident.
What Do You Need?
The type of coverage you get depends the laws in your state (most states have some required minimum auto insurance laws), the value of your car, and how much of your own money you're willing to spend if you get into an accident.
Also look at other insurance you have. Your medical insurance may cover injuries received in a car accident. If that's the case, you can decrease the medical coverage on your car insurance. Likewise, your homeowners or renters insurance may cover damage to your car.
Place Your Bets
In the end, car insurance is a bet. You pay a monthly fee to an insurance company. They're betting that you won't get into an accident. You're hoping that you won't, but betting that you will. If you "win," the insurance company will pay your accident costs. If you're not in an accident, the insurance company wins because they get to keep your money. Losing this bet isn't bad, though. You won't have to deal with being in an accident, and the longer you lose the bet by not getting into a wreck, the less you'll have to pay the insurance company. But, the day you're in an accident, you'll be glad you're covered.