Determining your Auto Insurance Needs Auto insurance blends several types of coverage into one policy. Typically, your policy will include some combination of comprehensive, collision, medical, liability and uninsured motorist coverage. Throw in the deductible amount and the vehicle’s value to arrive at the policy’s cost. Reduce the coverage amounts or raise the deductible and the cost of the policy goes down. So what do you need? It depends on your specific situation. Liability pays for the damage you cause to others if your car is involved in an accident. It also protects you from being wiped out financially if you are sued following an accident. The greater your assets, the more you stand to lose. If you have substantial financial resources, you may need liability coverage that exceeds the coverage that you’ll get from an auto insurance policy. In that case, an Umbrella policy can provide the extra liability protection you need. Collision covers damage to your car from an accident. Your insurance agent can help you decide whether or not to carry collision coverage by balancing the cost of collision insurance with the value of your car. It might not be worth paying $200 a year for collision insurance on a car that’s worth only $1,000. But if the car is worth $10,000, you probably want this coverage. Comprehensive coverage pays for your car if it is stolen, vandalized or damaged in some way other than in a collision. Medical coverage provides for medical expenses to you and your passengers that are the result of an accident. The way you use your car may make a difference in the amount of medical coverage you need. For example, we might suggest more coverage for a parent who regularly takes a carload of kids to soccer practice than for a driver who expects to drive mostly alone. Uninsured motorist coverage pays when you’re in an accident with someone who has no insurance. Keep in mind that many states require certain minimum levels of coverage. Consider these factors and talk with your agent.

Liability Coverage

When a claim is made against you or someone driving your car with your permission, your Liability Coverage pays for:

  • bodily injury to others and damage to the property of others when you are liable (up to the policy limits)
  • all court costs and the costs of experienced lawyers to protect your interests – whether you are at fault or not – whenever the claim or suit against you is based on an act that is covered under the policy
  • the cost of bail bonds (up to $250), attachment and appeal bonds
  • up to $50 a day for loss of earnings because of trials you attend at the insurance company’s request

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Medical Payments Coverage pays for doctor and hospital bills resulting from injuries received in automobile accidents, or when bicyclists or pedestrians are struck by motor vehicles. Insured persons include you, your spouse, resident relatives and guest passengers riding in your auto. Reasonable funeral expenses are covered, within the limit of Medical Payments Coverage or the limit under Personal Injury Protection Coverage. States with “no-fault” auto insurance laws provide Personal Injury Protection. Although the coverages and limits vary by state, the coverage typically includes the medical benefits listed above, plus:

  • work loss reimbursement for you, your spouse and resident relatives for wages lost because of injuries received in an auto accident
  • essential services expenses pays the costs of essential services you or your spouse would have performed except for an auto accident. For example, if you normally mow your lawn but are unable to do so because of an injury received in an auto accident, this coverage will pay for having the lawn mowed

Uninsured Motorists Coverage

Uninsured Motorists Coverage addresses the problem of trying to collect compensation for bodily injury caused by uninsured drivers. This includes hit-and-run drivers. Uninsured Motorists Coverage usually is offered in the same amount as your Bodily Injury (BI) Liability Coverage. However, you may purchase Uninsured Motorists Coverage at less than your BI limits, as long as the coverage meets your state’s financial responsibility limits (typically $25,000 each person, $50,000 each accident). If you have Uninsured Motorists Coverage, your insurance will pay for bodily injury or death from an auto accident caused by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver who is at fault. The coverage pays for you, your spouse, resident relatives and guest passengers riding in your auto.

Underinsured Motorists Coverage

If an accident resulting in bodily injury to you, your spouse, resident relatives, and guest passengers costs more than the ‘at-fault’ person’s auto policy will pay, Underinsured Motorists Coverage may provide additional compensation for the injuries. Underinsured Motorists Coverage varies by state. In some states, the term “underinsured” means both underinsured and uninsured. Underinsured Motorists Coverage may be included automatically as a coverage or may require additional premium. Check your policy for terms and conditions of your coverage.

Coverage For Damage to Your Auto

This coverage pays for direct and accidental loss to your insured auto or to certain vehicles you are temporarily using. Coverage for Damage to Your Auto is divided into two categories – Collision and Comprehensive. Collision Coverage pays for damage to your auto when your car collides with another auto or object, or when your car overturns (called “upset”). This coverage will pay for repairs required because of the accident, less the deductible. Comprehensive Coverage pays for practically all loss or damage to your car caused by hazards other than collision or upset, less the deductible. Examples include loss from fire, theft, glass breakage, vandalism, riot, explosion, flood, falling objects, wind and others. Mechanical breakdown is not covered.

Optional Coverages

There are a number of optional coverages you can include in your auto policy, depending on your specific needs. The major Optional Coverages are: Emergency Assistance Package* – Coping with an accident in your car while far from home can be difficult and costly. This coverage helps if trouble occurs. Some of the features include:

  • up to $50 a day for transportation expenses such as a rental car
  • up to $500 for alternative transportation home, meals, and lodging
  • up to $500 for personal property if the theft or damage occurs away from home
  • up to $100 for a telephone permanently installed in your car
  • up to $50 for tapes, records, discs, or other media – if the vehicle is stolen
  • locksmith coverage up to $50
  • towing included

Loan/Lease Coverage* – If you are paying on a car loan or have leased your car, there can be a difference or gap between the value of the loan or lease and the actual cash value of your car. You can cover this difference between the unpaid amount on the loan or lease and the value of the auto with special Loan/Lease (aka Gap) Coverage. It can be purchased only if you purchase Comprehensive and Collision Coverage. Loan/Lease Coverage applies only in the event of the unexpected end of your loan or lease due to a total loss covered by your policy. This coverage will pay any unpaid amount due on the loan or lease for your covered auto less:

  • the amount paid under your Comprehensive or Collision Coverage
  • overdue loan/lease payments at the time of loss
  • financial penalties imposed for excessive use, abnormal wear and tear, or high mileage
  • security deposits not refunded by a lessor
  • cost for extended warranties or insurance purchased with the loan or lease
  • carry-over balances from previous loans or leases

The premium for Loan/Lease Coverage is normally a small percentage of the combined Comprehensive and Collision Coverage premium. Loss of Use helps pay for a rental car when your car is being repaired as a result of collision or comprehensive damage that exceeds the deductible. Towing and Labor coverage provides a large measure of additional security.

  • towing your car to the nearest place where necessary repairs can be made during regular business hours
  • towing your car out if it is stuck on or next to a public street or highway
  • mechanical labor up to one hour at the place of its breakdown
  • change of a tire
  • delivery of gasoline, oil or loaned battery, but not the cost of these items

There is no dollar limit to this coverage, whether your car is disabled and you must have it towed or if you need a mechanic to come to the breakdown site.