Car insurance is required in most states. You must carry proof of insurance with you when driving. Your auto insurance company will provide you with a card or other type of documentation that shows you have the required coverage. Full Coverage is usually a combination of liability, comprehensive and collision insurance. You can compare insurance policies from many different companies.
Car insurance protects you and your vehicle against losses. Policies offer various types of coverage:Liability pays for any damages caused by you or your vehicle if you are involved in an accident with another vehicle or object. Liability covers property damage and bodily injury. A $50,000 liability coverage is generally considered the absolute minimum, while most car insurance companies recommend taking a policy that provides $150,000 or higher coverage. Medical Payments covers you and your passengers, and is usually limited to less than $5,000.
Collision coverage is optional, but pays for damage that may occur to your vehicle in an accident regardless of who is at fault. Collision insurance is recommended for newer vehicles, especially if you owe money on the vehicle. On an older vehicle that is not worth much, collision coverage may not be worth the expense. The deductible (the portion of any repair expenses you pay out-of-pocket yourself) typically varies from $100 up to $2,000. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.
Comprehensive coverage is also optional, and pays for theft losses, vandalism or storm damage, and glass breakage. Though not required by law, it is usually well worth the money and often pays for itself if you ever have to replace a windshield or your vehicle suffers storm damage.
Emergency road service covers a roadside service call, jump start or towing fee. The amount paid may be limited to $50 to $100 per incident. You don't need emergency road service if you are a member of AAA or another motor club. But emergency road service is usually less expensive when purchased as part of your car insurance package than joining AAA or another motor club. This type of coverage will more than pay for itself if your have a break down or flat tire and have to call a tow truck (most of whom charge a minimum of $75 plus mileage).
Uninsured Motorist or underinsured motorist coverage pays for damages to your vehicle should you be involved in an accident with someone who is uninsured or underinsured. This may be required depending on the state where you live. This type of coverage is highly recommended whether you live in an urban area or a rural area (there are a lot of uninsured drivers on the road). It will pay for damaged to your vehicle if the person who hit you is uninsured.
Car insurance fees vary greatly, and depend on age, sex (males pay a higher rate), your driving record, the type of vehicle you own, and how many miles you drive per year. Rates will also vary depending on the limits of coverage you select, and which company you choose to insure your vehicle(s). Most auto insurance companies offer multi-car discounts, accident-free discounts and other special discounts.
If you have had a DUI arrest or conviction, getting high risk car insurance can be very expensive. So it pays to shop for the best rates.
Always get multiple rate quotes when shopping for car insurance, as rates from one company may be 2X or 3X higher than another company. Finding the best deal can save you hundreds of dollars a year!
When shopping rates, be sure you are comparing similar coverages (same liability limits, deductibles, etc.). You obviously want the best insurance value for your money, but equally important is how well the insurance company will treat you should you have to file a claim. A cheap rate is not worth much if you get lousy service from your insurance company.
If you have a claims problem with an insurance company, contact your local Better Business Bureau, or your state insurance office to file a complaint.
In a recent survey (released January 2015), the Consumer Federation of America found that many insurance companies typically charge higher auto insurance rates if you finance your car rather than own it outright. They also discriminate against lower income drivers as well as drivers who live in large cities.
The survey found wildly different premiums for the exact same coverage - which is another reason why you should always get multiple quotes when you are shopping for car insurance. The premiums quoted in the survey for the same coverage ranged from $564 to $3374 per year! This means some drivers have to pay SIX TIMES as much money for the exact same auto insurance coverage as other drivers who have the same driving record (no recent tickets or accidents). The differences in premiums varied by location and whether the driver lived in the city (higher rates) or suburbs (lower rates).
To read a copy of the CFA Auto Insurance Survey, Click Here.
If you think your insurance company is over-charging you for your car insurance, you can attempt to negotiate a lower rate when your policy is up for renewal (fat chance of that ever happening!). Or, you can tell them goodbye and shop around for a better rate. Chances are you'll find another company that can save you money over what you are paying now.
Another game the insurance companies play is to give you a lowball quote for your car insurance IF you also buy your home owners or renters insurance from them (which may be higher than what your are paying now). Or, they give you a low premium for the first year, then jack up the rate when your policy comes up for renewal based on what the other insurance companies in your area are charging for a similar policy.
The bottom line is the insurance companies play a lot of unfair pricing games to take unfair advantage of consumers. Auto insurance is supposed to be a "regulated" industry, but it really isn't.