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What Auto Insurance coverage do I need?

What Auto Insurance coverage do I need?


Most states require drivers to have at least a minimum amount of auto insurance. When deciding what to buy, start by finding out what your state’s requirements are. You can get this information
from your state’s insurance department (www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm), or from an insurance company doing business in your state.
Drivers who purchase only the minimum required coverage might not have adequate protection. You should consider adding coverage based on your assets and how much risk you are willing
to take. If you’re financing your car (making payments on a car loan or lease), your lender may have additional insurance requirements.

Liability. 

This coverage pays for injury and damages to other parties when you cause an accident. All states except New Hampshire and Florida require some liability coverage. When buying liability insurance, coverage limits are indicated bythree numbers—50/100/25, for example. The first number indicates the maximum bodily injury liability, in thousands of dollars, for one person injured in an accident. The second number is the maximum bodily injury liability for all injuries in an accident. And the third number is the maximum property damage liability in an accident. Especially if you own significant assets, such as a home or savings and investments, you should consider buying more than the state required minimum coverage and making sure than your coverage is enough to protect your assets. Otherwise, if you are sued and lose the case, you might be forced to use your assets to cover damages not paid by your policy.


Personal injury protection (PIP).

This coverage pays a perperson benefit for your and your passengers’ medical bills resulting from an accident. In some cases, it may also pay for lost wages, funeral expenses and other losses.
The exact PIP benefits provided and limits required or allowed vary from state to state is commonly referred to as “no-fault” coverage because it pays for bodily injury claims regardless of whose fault the accident is.
This means that you would turn to your own insurance company for liability claims even if someone else caused the accident. Your ability to sue the other driver for additional damages above and
beyond your PIP claim varies from state to state. Personal injury protection typically doesn’t apply to vehicle damage—that claim
would be covered by the party that caused the accident or by your own collision coverage.

There are a dozen or so no-fault states, where PIP is required coverage. Contact your state DMV or Department of Insurance
(www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm) to find out if your state is one of them. In the other states, PIP coverage, if available, is optional.
Learn more about PIP in general at www.all-about-car-accidents.
com/resources/auto-accident/car-accident-claims/no-fault-car-insu,and learn about state-specific insurance laws at www.all-about-caraccidents.
com/topics/drivers-insurance-laws-regulations.
Medical payments. Like PIP, this coverage pays your and your passengers’ medical expenses, up to a predetermined limit,
regardless of who was at fault in the accident. However, it does not cover other losses, such as lost wages or funeral expenses, the
way PIP does.
Property damage liability. This coverage pays for damage you cause to someone else’s property with your car. That could mean
damage you cause to the other person’s car in an accident. Or it could mean, for example, damage you cause to your neighbor’s
fence with your car.

Collision:


This coverage pays for damage to your car resulting from an accident. When you purchase collision coverage, you will be asked to choose the amount of your deductible—the amount you will have to pay to repair any damage before the insurance kicks in.
Standard deductible amounts are $250, $500 and $1,000, though the deductible you choose could be higher or lower. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium (the cost of the insurance).
Comprehensive. This coverage reimburses you if your car is stolen or if it is damaged by something other than an accident—flood or vandalism, for example. Like collision coverage, comprehensive coverage is sold with a deductible.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist. This coverage kicks in if an uninsured, underinsured or hit-and-run driver hits your car.
Commercial (business) auto insurance. Commercial auto policies cover losses incurred in the course of conducting your business. They have higher liability limits and can include coverage for when your employees use their cars for company business.
Not all small business owners need commercial auto insurance.
Depending on the type of use (driving to appointments occasionally vs. daily pizza delivery), who uses the car (just you, or employees or contractors, too) and other factors, you might only need a personal auto policy. But requirements and terms can vary from insurer to insurer, between states and even among products within the same insurance company.
Since a single uncovered accident could result in a financially devastating judgment against you, your smartest move is to let your insurance agent know how and when you plan to use your car for business so that he or she can advise you. Also ask about coverage if employees or independent contractors will be driving their own cars on your behalf.
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