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What is Automobile Insurance?

Even though we may drive a car every day, Auto Insurance isn't the simplest thing to understand. There are different coverages levels, deductible choices, optional coverages, and even certain requirements that vary by state. An Auto Insurance policy is actually a package of 7 primary auto insurance coverages. Each of these coverages has its own separate premium amount. Your payment is the total of these separate amounts added together for each car listed on your policy. In addition to the primary coverages, you can also choose to add other coverages, such as Emergency Road Service, for additional amounts.

What's Insured?

Here's a list of the seven primary coverages and how they protect you:

  • Bodily injury liability provides protection if you injure or kill someone while operating your car. It also provides for a legal defense if another party in the accident files a lawsuit against you. In the event of a serious accident, you want enough insurance to cover a judgment against you in a lawsuit, without jeopardizing your personal assets. Bodily injury liability covers injury to people, not your vehicle. Therefore it's a good idea to have the same level of coverage for all of your cars.
  • Property damage liability protects you if your car damages someone else's property. It also provides you with legal defense if another party files a lawsuit against you. It is a good idea to purchase enough of this insurance to cover the amount of damage your car might do to another vehicle or object.
  • Collision coverage pays for damage to your car when your car hits, or is hit by, another vehicle or other object. To keep your premiums low, select as large a deductible as you feel comfortable paying out of pocket. For older cars, consider reducing or dropping this coverage, since coverage is normally limited to the cash value of your car.
  • Comprehensive physical damage coverage pays for losses resulting from incidents other than collision. For example, comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car if it is stolen; or damaged by flood, fire or animals. To keep your premiums low, select as high a deductible as you feel comfortable paying out of pocket.
  • Medical payments, no-fault or personal injury protection coverage usually pays for the medical expenses of the injured driver and passengers in your car. There may also be coverage if you are injured by a vehicle as a pedestrian.
  • Uninsured motorists coverage pays for your injuries caused by an uninsured driver or, in some states, a hit-and-run driver. In some states there is also uninsured motorist coverage for damage to your vehicle. Given the large number of uninsured motorists, this is very important coverage to have, even in states with no-fault insurance.
  • Rental reimbursement coverage pays for a rental vehicle (usually up to $25 a day) when your vehicle is out of commission as a result of a loss covered under comprehensive or collision coverages.

Please note that this is a summary of typical coverages. Read the terms of your policy carefully to learn what coverages are provided under your insurance policy.

Buying Auto Insurance

Most auto policies renew every 6 months, which means you probably have a pretty good idea how much coverage you need. If you have your policy handy and want to buy the exact same coverage levels, there are plenty of insurance companies who let you purchase coverage 100% online. The most popular of these companies are: Geico, Progressive and Esurance. After seeing your auto insurance quote online, you may also call these companies so an insurance expert can help guide you through the options and answer any questions. Assuming you'll be driving everyday, you don't want any surprises if the unexpected should occur.