Know Your State Laws
Remember that some states require that you purchase liability insurance. Liability insurance is what pays for bodily injury and property damage that you cause another driver. Fifteen states including Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey also require that you buy Personal Injury Protection (PIP). This coverage pays for your medical expenses and lost wages in the event of an auto accident. Your insurance minimum will most likely be determined by state law, but many people are encouraged to purchase more than is required.
Know Your Options
There are a lot of car insurance options; but knowing what you most likely will need is the key to making sure you are appropriately covered. Do you want coverage for a rental car if your car is damaged? Do you want an extended warranty to pay for parts and labor if your car breaks down? If your car is leased, you will probably need gap insurance which pays for the difference between what your insurer pays and what you owe on your lease if the car is completely totaled.
Know How Much Money You Want to Spend
If you know your state laws and have examined your personal needs, now you can put together the different pieces of auto insurance coverage in one total policy. The first piece of the policy is almost always liability insurance. If you only have minimum liability coverage and you injure someone, their attorney can go after your personal assets. So, you need to know your assets and what you can afford to lose in the event of an accident. Many insurers feel that minimum liability is a gamble. In fact, that is why it is often only a little more money for more protection. After all, if you do get into an accident, it is much better for the insurance company to be responsible than for you to be personally responsible. Remember to run through various scenarios such as if I totaled someone else's car, will my insurance cover it? How much will I have to pay out of my own pocket? The answers to these types of questions will determine what coverage makes you feel most confident should an accident happen.
Know Your Vehicle
If your car was totaled, would you be able to afford to replace it? If not, you will want comprehensive and collision coverage. The decision to buy this coverage is usually based on the value of your car. Guidelines usually suggest that if your car is worth less than $2,000, it won't be worth it to buy comprehensive and collision. If you own a $50,000 car though, it would most certainly be worth it to pay an extra $200 annually or so to insure that your car will be replaced if you get in a serious accident.
Know About Your Other Insurance
Many people don't realize that other types of insurance including health insurance and homeowners insurance may pay for damages due to an auto accident. For instance, if you have comprehensive health coverage, you probably won't need more than the minimum required Personal Injury Protection (PIP). Make sure you know what insurance coverage you already have so that you don't purchase unnecessary coverage.
The best way to figure out your own auto insurance needs is to examine potential policies and know how much you are willing to gamble. For instance, it may not be worth it to you to purchase collision insurance if your car is not incredibly valuable and would therefore cost less to fix than to keep insured. Auto insurance is simply about how much you are willing to pay out of your own pocket versus how much you want the insurance company to cover. Once you decide this, you're all set to purchase your auto insurance policy.
The Price of Auto Insurance
There are several factors that affect the price of auto insurance. Of course, prices vary by company and you should compare prices thoroughly before you purchase a policy. The first thing that affects your policy's price is, of course, what kind of car you drive. For instance, a sports car costs more to insure than a family sedan. If you purchase a vehicle that has a high theft rate, your coverage will probably be more expensive. Essentially, though, your coverage will be based on the value of your car.
Another factor that affects auto insurance costs is where you live. If you live in an area where there is a high occurrence of accidents or vandalism, insurance will cost more money. For instance, since more cars are damaged in urban areas than in rural areas, you will probably pay more for insurance if you live in a city.
How often you drive will also affect your insurance costs. The more you drive, the higher the chances you will be an accident. Drivers who have long-distance commutes will pay more than people who live near their workplace. Meanwhile, if you only use your car on weekends, your insurance rates should be lower than someone who commutes to work daily.
The final factors that affect the price of auto insurance have to do with who you are. Your age, sex, marital status and driving record are all taken into account when you buy an insurance policy. Accident rates are higher for drivers under the age of 25, so if you are young, expect to pay a little more. Also, accident rates are higher for young males and single males. It doesn't seem fair, but if you are an unmarried 19-year-old male, your insurance rates will definitely be affected. If your driving record is impeccable, though, your rates will be lower. Obviously, drivers who are prone to traffic violations or accidents will have to pay more for insurance than safe drivers.
If these cost factors are beginning to scare you, don't worry. There are several ways to keep your insurance rates down.
There are four main factors that can keep auto insurance rates down. See if you fall into any of the following categories. If you do, you may be able to save money on your car insurance regardless of the value of your automobile.
1. If you are looking to buy a car, consider buying a car that "looks good" to insurance companies. For instance, insurance companies know what kinds of cars are prone to problems. They also know what kinds of cars are most often stolen. If you haven't purchased your car yet, find out what cars make this "good list" among auto insurers.
2. Most insurance companies offer discounts for a variety of reasons - for example, good students, having more than one car insured and accident-free driving are all worth a discount. Ask insurance companies about specific discounts that may be available to you.
3. Consider carpooling or using public transportation to get to work. The less you use your car, the less your insurance will cost you.
4. Finally, drive carefully! Insurance companies are not happy to insure accident-prone drivers, so the safer you drive, the less you will have to pay for auto insurance.
Remember, don't be afraid to ask your insurance company about any discounts they offer - it could save you a little cash.