নিউজ ডেস্ক প্রিন্ট সংস্করণ
Here’s the information you’ll need to jump-start a car insurance shopping journey:
Before you buy a car insurance policy, the first step is to figure out how much car insurance you need. If you buy too little coverage, you could be woefully underinsured. But if you buy too much, you’ll be overpaying.
Here are some common coverage types you’ll want to consider.
If you cause a car accident, liability car insurance pays for property damage and injuries to others, such as their car repair bills and medical expenses. It also covers legal expenses if someone sues you because of an accident.
Most states (except New Hampshire and Virginia) require you to carry a minimum amount of liability car insurance. For example, in New York, all drivers must carry minimum liability limits of 25/50/10, which means:
But here’s the problem: The minimum required amounts of liability insurance required by states are generally inadequate. For example, if you bought the minimum amount in New York and caused a car crash that resulted in multiple injuries and more than $50,000 in medical bills, you’d be on the hook for the amount above $50,000.
A good rule of thumb is to buy enough liability insurance to cover what you could lose in a lawsuit.
Not every driver buys liability insurance, even if they are required to do so. And some drivers have liability insurance but not enough to cover an expensive car accident. So what happens if an uninsured or underinsured driver crashes into you?
Uninsured motorist insurance (UM) and underinsured motorist insurance (UIM) pay for your medical bills and other expenses, such as lost wages, funeral expenses, and pain and suffering.
Some states require UM. Other states offer UM as an optional coverage (you can reject coverage in writing). Even if UM is not required in your state, this is generally a good coverage to have if it is available to you.
If you want coverage for car repair bills for your own vehicle, you’ll want to buy collision and comprehensive insurance. While these coverage types are often sold together, they cover two different groups of problems:
If you have a car loan or lease, your lender or leasing company will likely require that you carry both collision and comprehensive insurance.
If you are hurt in a car accident, personal injury protection (PIP) pays for you and your passengers medical bills and other expenses no matter who caused the accident. PIP is required in 15 states as part of “no-fault” insurance laws. PIP is optional in four states and the District of Columbia.
PIP generally covers:
Sometimes called “MedPay,” this coverage type pays for medical bills for you and your passengers, regardless of who is at fault for the car accident. MedPay is generally sold in small amounts between $1,000 and $5,000. MedPay is not available in every state.
In addition to the standard auto insurance options, you may want to buy extra coverage to ensure you’re fully protected:
When you have determined how much car insurance you need, the next step is to compare car insurance quotes from multiple insurance companies. Car insurance rates can vary a lot from insurer to insurer for the exact same coverage, so don’t skip this vital step.
You can get free quotes:
Here is some of the information you’ll need handy to gather insurance quotes:
Once you identify the company and policy you want, it’s time to make an auto insurance application.
Some insurers will offer up to a 10% discount if you pay the full term up front. If you don’t want to pay in full, you can typically choose monthly instalments. You might be able to get a small discount for using automatic withdrawals.
When you have a policy the insurance company will send you proof of insurance via email, fax or mail. Some insurers have a mobile app that downloads your proof of insurance. Most states, excluding New Mexico, accept digital proof of auto insurance.
If you are purchasing a new or used car, most states require proof of insurance before you can register the vehicle and drive it off the dealership lot.
If you already had insurance in place on your current car, make sure your new coverage is active before canceling the previous policy. You should get a refund for the unused months on the old policy.
Make sure you get confirmation that your policy was canceled.
If you cancel auto insurance before the new coverage is effective, your car will be uninsured, which can have serious legal and financial consequences if you get into a car accident—meaning you will have to pay for all damages and expenses out-of-pocket, and you could be ticketed for driving uninsured. You may also have to pay more for your new policy, as a lapse in coverage can hike rates.
Whether you’re a car insurance newbie or an expert, here are some helpful tips worth considering when buying a car insurance policy.
There are ways to save on car insurance, such as:
It’s good to regularly review your auto insurance coverage to make sure it still meets your needs. The policy you bought 10 years ago may no longer be adequate or competitively priced.
“Auto insurance needs vary from person to person. From young drivers, commuting to work, carpooling to soccer practice, or approaching your golden years of driving, it is important to consult with your agent throughout every phase of life to make sure that you have the exact coverage you need and nothing that you don’t,” says Jon Bloom, vice president of product management at Erie Insurance.
Sure, you want to find car insurance at the best possible price. But cost isn’t everything. If you have to file a car insurance claim, you want an insurance company that has a solid reputation for customer service.
The best car insurance companies combine good service at a competitive price.