Auto Insurance Questions to Discuss With Your Independent Agent
Of all the types of insurance available, auto insurance is likely the one you feel most familiar with. All but a handful of states require some insurance to drive, which makes getting car insurance almost as much a rite of passage as getting a driver’s license.
But, are you asking the right car insurance questions when you update your policy or purchase a new one? Following are eight questions to address with your independent agent as you decide what kind of coverage is right for you.
- Is it illegal to drive without car insurance? In nearly every state, yes. Your independent agent is familiar with the minimum coverage requirements in your state. Typically you need a certain amount of both bodily injury liability and property damage liability to drive legally. You can purchase the amount your state specifies, or you can purchase more. Just think carefully before you settle for the legal minimum. You may wind up with no coverage for your own vehicle or injuries, and the cost of a serious accident may exceed the little coverage you do have, leaving you responsible for the bills your insurance won’t cover.
- Does my state require other auto insurance coverages? It might. Some states require medical payments coverage and/or uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage. Even if they’re not required, they’re worth considering. The first helps cover the cost of hospital bills and medical care for you and your passengers. The second helps pay for damages you are legally entitled to from another driver who has no insurance or insufficient insurance coverage.
- Do I have coverage for my own vehicle? Not unless you add collision and comprehensive to your auto policy. Collision helps pay for repairs to your car if it is damaged in an accident. Comprehensive helps cover the cost of repairs or replacement if your car is stolen or damaged in some way other than a collision, such as if a tree falls on it during a storm. Some drivers forgo collision and comprehensive once the value of their vehicles diminish significantly. However, before you do this, be sure you understand that you will have no coverage for the vehicle through your own carrier, no matter if you experience hail damage or a total loss.
- Are any auto insurance options worth my while? Options make it possible to tailor your coverage to your needs. Two worth considering: Roadside assistance, which covers towing and other basic emergency services, and, if you have a newer car, loan and lease coverage (aka gap coverage), which covers the difference between what a car is worth and what you owe on it if it is declared a total loss.
- What determines how much I pay for car insurance? The factors that determine your car insurance rates can vary from state to state. Some of the most common ones include your age, your occupation, your place of residence, your driving history and your vehicle type. And, yes, having teenage drivers in the household can be a major factor, but your insurer may offer discounts if your teen is a good student, completes a driver training course and drives safely.
- How can I save on car insurance? Insuring multiple vehicles or both your home and car with the same carrier may help you pay less for auto insurance. You may also qualify for certain auto insurance discounts if, for example, your car has an antitheft device or you don’t put too many miles on it in any given year. Another easy way to potentially save on car insurance is choosing a higher deductible, the amount you’ll pay out of your own pocket in the event of a claim. Be sure to go over the possibilities with your independent agent.
- How will a claim be handled? Look for an insurer that offers claims service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is committed to handling your claim in a timely fashion. You may also prefer a carrier with a nationwide network of repair shops and preferred providers whose work it stands behind.
- How do I show proof of insurance? Traditionally you kept printed paper cards in your dashboard or your wallet – or both. With the widespread use of smartphones, you may have another option: electronic proof of insurance through your online account with your carrier. However, not all states accept electronic ID cards at this time, so be sure to check if this is an option for you.
From minor fender-benders to multicar pileups, the costs of an auto accident can be staggering. Auto insurance is designed to help protect you against some of those costs, depending on how you design your policy. Bring up these – and other topics – with your independent agent to get started.
Have More Car Insurance Questions?
Check out Safeco’s Understanding Insurance blogs for more about car insurance, classic car insurance and other types of insurance. Or you can always call or stop by our office for a more personalized experience. We are always here to answer your questions and assist with understanding your insurance coverage and options available to you.