At the surface, car insurance can seem fairly straightforward. You buy a policy, and if you get into an accident, it comes to your aid – at least in certain scenarios.
However, once you start digging deeper, a lot of questions can pop up. As independent agents, we always encourage people to dig deeper so they can better understand the process of purchasing insurance, filing a claim and more. Because the more you understand, the better you can select the coverage you need.
Let’s take a look at three of the most common questions people typically have about car insurance so we can shed light on some important issues.
Coverages: Does auto insurance cover the car or the driver?
An auto insurance policy can include many different types of coverages, so the answer is: It depends. Some coverages are for the car and others for the driver and passengers. Let’s look at some of the different types and what they cover (your own policy may differ):
Collision and Comprehensive: These two coverages are vehicle-specific. Collision is for vehicle damage sustained in an auto accident – your vehicle, that is. Comprehensive is for damage your vehicle sustains in other incidents, such as fallen trees, lightning, fire, theft and vandalism, as well as cracked windshields.Does it matter who’s driving? Oftentimes not. You and other members of your household listed on the policy are certainly covered, according to your policy terms. If you let a friend borrow the car, it’s likely still covered. This is why we independent agents say that collision and comprehensive “follow the vehicle” – the vehicle receives the same coverage no matter who’s driving, so long as the scenario does not conflict with your policy.
Whether the coverage follows the vehicle into other countries, such as Mexico and Canada, is something you’ll want to check with your independent agent.
Property Damage Liability: This is one of two auto insurance coverages that most states require drivers to carry. It is vehicle-specific and may apply when you damage someone else’s property, such as a car or building, with your vehicle. Hence, if you back into your neighbor’s picket fence or boat trailer, this coverage may help pay to repair your neighbor’s damaged property. Ditto if you rear end another vehicle – this coverage is for damage to other vehicles, not your own. It may also help pay for any legal fees associated with the claim.
Bodily Injury Liability: This is the second type of coverage that most states require drivers to carry. When the actions of your driving result in injuries to others, whether it’s a bicyclist, a pedestrian, the driver of another car or a passenger in another car, this coverage may help with their medical bills. It may also help cover the cost of lost wages and pain and suffering of the injured party, as well as your legal fees if the injured person decides to sue for damages. This coverage typically follows you, the driver, from vehicle to vehicle, but you should always check the terms of your policy.
Medical Payments Coverage: This coverage also typically follows the driver. It helps pay for your own medical expenses, as well as those of your passengers, if you are involved in an accident while driving. It doesn’t matter who is at fault. Some states require you to carry this coverage.
Claims: Does a police report always determine blame in a car accident?
It depends on the statutes in each state. In most cases, if a police report is available and it states who is at fault, the insurance carriers will abide by that. There could be extenuating circumstances, however, that affect the decision of the carriers involved.
Driving record: Can my insurance company check my driving history?
Yes, insurance companies can review your driving history via both a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report and a Motor Vehicle Report (MVR). The former details your claims history over the past five years, and the latter lists any driving offenses. The information on these reports can affect how much you pay for car insurance.
As consumers, the great thing about working with independent agents is that you can call them up and ask them your own insurance questions, or ask for further clarification on the above. Trust us, there’s no need to be shy. Insurance is important, and we’re here to help you understand it.